This reissue on Americatone by Sam Trippe’s orchestra was recorded more than forty years ago, shortly before Trippe and his wife, Dorothy, were killed in an auto accident, which accounts for its LP–like 30:40 playing time. Trippe’s ensemble was modeled closely on that of Woody Herman — not a bad model at all — and Sam was convinced he had one of the world’s greatest big bands. While that’s hard to affirm — as Art Blakey once said, it’s impossible to measure talent — he had a very good one, led by tenor Jay Migliori and anchored by drummer Chiz Harris, and Explosion! is an appropriate name for its only record date. The band explodes from the starting gate on “Dress Blues” and scarcely pauses for breath until crossing the finish line with a buoyant reading of “It’s a Wonderful World.” Migliori’s wailing tenor, reminiscent of Al Cohn (and, on “How High the Moon,” of Gene Ammons on Woody’s “More Moon”), is heard most often, with other respectable solos by pianist Shep Meyers and trumpeters Don Cinquemani, Bob Mitchell and Diz Mullins. Baritone saxophonist Gil Sciaqua is listed as a soloist on “Wonderful World,” but the only sax solo is a tenor, and it sounds like Migliori. There’s one ballad, “You Go to My Head,” whose featured trumpet is unlisted, as are the trombone and trumpet solos on “Ride Around the Block” and the trombone on “Wonderful World,” among others. These are by no means the only flaws in a cheesy–looking product whose slipshod graphics and useless liner notes look as though they’d been copied in a hurry on someone’s cheap mimeograph machine. While the inner pages of its four–page booklet are devoted for the most part to a listing of personnel, only bass trombonist Bill Smiley’s name appears as a member of that section, and surely there must have been more saxophones than those of Migliori, Sciaqua and alto Al Willet. A single–page overlay includes the word “new,” which is technically correct, as the album is new to Americatone, although it was recorded, as we said, more than forty years ago. These flaws, however, have nothing to do with the music, which is consistently first–rate (all 30:40 of it), and we can recommend the album in spite of them.
Contact:Americatone International, 1817 Loch Lomond Way, Las Vegas, NV 89102–4437. Phone 702–384–0030; fax 702–382–1926. Web site, www.americatone.com
Track Listing: Dress Blues; Grumpy; Bella
Personnel: Sam Trippe, leader; Don Cinquemani, Bob Mitchell, Diz Mullins, Roy Catos, trumpet; Al Willet, alto sax; Jay Migliori, tenor sax; Gil Sciaqua, baritone sax; Bill Smiley, bass trombone; Shep Meyers, piano; Francis James, bass; Chiz Harris, drums. Other personnel unlisted.