A graduate of Nebraska University and a veteran of one of the best on the job training gigs a young music professional can come by, the U.S. Army Band, drummer/leader Bradley Allen has selected a diverse set of tunes for his debut album. He runs the spectrum to present Bop, Swing, R & B and Jump Jive. Along the way he is joined by Kansas City friends who work well in any of these diffuse genre. There's Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive and Wail" with Tom DeMasters doing the vocal honors as Phil Brenner on sax and Johnie Eager on trombone share generous solo time. DeMasters' vocalizing shows the same infectious growling quality that made Prima's voice instantly recognizable. On Sonny Rollins' bop classic "St. Thomas," Tom DeMasters takes the lead playing a Jim Hall like guitar as Allen drums are front and center on this cut. Interestingly enough, Allen does not use his position as leader to take a hoggish share of sole time. Brenner picks up his alto to do Charlie Barnet on "Cherokee" before he turns to some strong post bop improvisations on the melody. A bass and guitar dominated rendition of Charles Mingus' classic "Nostalgia in Times Square" is one of the highlights of this session for me. Throughout the session, there's a nice balance between the various instrumentalists with no one taking over and pushing the others aside. No one plays or gets more than a reasonable share of the solo time and no one is relegated to just comping.
Far too short on playing time, but showing an ability to play an array of different styles which bodes well for the future of this group. Next time, however, the group will have to spring for more than 22 minutes if they expect to be taken seriously by the CD buying public.
Track Listing: Itty Bitty Bit; All the Things You Are; Jump, Jive & Wail; St. Thomas; Route 66; Nostalgia in Times Square; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Cherokee
Personnel: Bradley Allen -Drums/Leader; Tom DeMasters -Vocals/Guitar; Craig Akin -Bass; Johnie Eager -Trombone; Phil Brenner -Alto Sax