The Straight Ahead Jazz Combo is comprised of six members of the Redding, California-based Straight Ahead Big Band, including its leader, saxophonist Steve Fischer, and vocalist, Nancy Fischer. Unlike other groups for whom the singer serves as a change of pace or pleasant distraction, the Straight Ahead Combo is actually enhanced when Nancy Fischer commands the spotlight, as she does on half of the album's fourteen selections..
Whatever the framework, this is the sort of group one would expect to hear playing at a dance for a local club or civic group (available for weddings and bar mitzvahs too). The music it produces is pleasant but no more than that. It's also quite familiar, for the most part, with ten songs that could be considered popular standards complementing Miles Davis' "All Blues, Luis Bonfa's theme from "Black Orpheus, Hilton Ruiz's "Sway, and Steve Fischer's "Demostheme.
There are solos all 'round, and the most pallid improviser is the leader, Steve Fischer. I doubt if anyone in the band would mention that, so I guess it's up to me. Pianist Bob Hanson is passable, as is trombonist John Schlenz, and the rhythm section doesn't embarrass itself. Bassist George Ireton subs for Tom Andrews on "Black Orpheus and "Route 66.
Nancy Fischer is a tasteful band singer, and the Straight Ahead Combo (whose name, come to think of it, sounds rather like something one might order at a fast-food emporium) has packaged a non-fattening musical snack.
Track Listing: Ain
Personnel: Steve Fischer, saxophones; John Schlenz, trombone; Bob Hansen, piano; Tom Andrews, George Ireton (4, 8), bass; Dave Barnett, drums; Nancy Fischer, vocals.