If you're partial to music that is sunny and freewheeling and almost commands a smile, you should have no trouble warming to Bluesville, the eighth recording by New Jersey-based Swingadelic, now twenty-two years old and counting. As its name implies, the orchestra (more often than not a mini-big band a dozen or so strong) re-creates an era wherein young fun-lovers (and some older ones as well) listened, danced and grooved to bands whose essential purpose was to make sure everyone had a good time and went home (or wherever) wearing a grin.
The repertoire is wide-ranging, the mood bluesy but seldom depressing. As a rule, it's far more upbeat than downcast, opening (and closing) with lively versions of "The Late Late Show," the last an instrumental, the first sung (perhaps) by John Bauers (the jacket says Neal Pawley, the liner notes Bauers). That's of no concern, however, as Bauers and Pawley are more or less interchangeable. Vanessa Perea is listed as the vocalist on "Fool's Paradise," whereas it's actually Bauers (or maybe Pawley). Perea is heard on Mary Lou Williams' "What's Your Story, Morning Glory" and Brook Benton's "I Don't Know," while guitarist Andy Riedel doubles as vocalist on the funky "You're Humbuggin' Me." There's one more vocal, by pianist Mitch Woods, on Mose Allison's droll "Parchman Farm," with guest drummer Jimmy Coleman sitting in on that one as well.
While the music on Bluesville is unabashedly retro, much of it is seldom-heard in 2020, which lends the performance an unexpected freshness and charm. As for Swingadelic, it has been around long enough to become rather proficient at doing what it does best. A bright, solid scrapbook of swing.
The Late Late Show; I Love the Life I Live; Harlem Nocturne; Mary Ann; What’s Your Story, Morning Glory; Parchman
Farm; Lonely Avenue; El Blues Esa Mujer; I Don’t Know; Riff’n on McGriff’n; Fool’s Paradise; TheMooche; You’re
Humbuggin’ Me; The Late Late Show.