When I picked up this album, I had a nagging feeling that I had seen it before. A check of my data base indicated that it's a reissue of a disc that the Canadian based Spitfire Band did for Columbia Records several years ago called In Flight. A call to the album's producer, Bill Lawrence confirmed this. It's a bit misleading not to include this information on the back cover of the album so that prospective purchasers are aware they are in a sense buying a used car. Also, it's really a partial reissue since not all the tunes from the original release have been included resulting in a relatively meager under 40 minutes worth of music. Moreover, the liner notes also don't identify the personnel from this fine Canadian band..The personnel appearing below are from the liner notes of the earlier release and I think it's safe to assume they are the same.
The good news is that Alanna Records, as it has done with other Spitfire Band releases, has remastered the album and the sound is wonderfully clear and crisp, just right for big band music. And the music is all familiar, as are the arrangements. Charlie Barnet is honored with "Skyliner", Xavier Cugat with "Brazil", Tommy Dorsey with "Marie", although the trombone solo here is not nearly as smooth as Dorsey's. There's also a vocal solo, with the band helping out, as they did when Jack Leonard sang the original. And the train still pulls out of the station as it did on Glenn Miller's "Chattanooga Choo Choo" which reached number 1 on the pop charts in 1941. But there's no Tex Beneke and the Modernaires vocal like there was way back then. Not all cuts are from the 1940's big band era. The Count Basie 1966 arrangement of "Days of Wine and Roses" is given a reworking.
This album is like instant replay. If you heard the original, nothing's changed. But the Spitfire Band is made up of excellent musicians, several of whom are also part of Rob McConnell's Boss Brass aggregation. This is a neat album to play in the car while on a trip and you need something to keep the adrenalin flowing so you don't fall asleep or to drown out the kids.
Tracks:Skyliner; It Happened in Monterey; Thou Swell;Days of Wine and Roses; Caravan; Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise; If I Were a Bell; Marie; Brazil; One; Something's Gotta Give; Chattanooga Choo Choo; By Myself
Personnel: Micky Erbe- Trumpet/Musical Director; Dave Woods, Mike Malone, Johnny MacLeod - Trumpet; Bob Livingstone, Laurie Bower - Trombone/Vocals; Russ Little, Bob Hamper - Trombone; Jack Zaza, Bill Ruttie, Dave Caldwell, Steve Lederer, Bobby DeAngelis - Reeds; Gary Gross- Piano; Hank Manis - Guitar; Rick Homme - Bass; Brian Leonard - Drums; Jackie Rae/Laurie Bower Singers - Vocals