The Midiri Brothers are drummer Paul and clarinetist Joe who’s the clear–cut headliner on this high–spirited album by quartet, quintet and big band. The passionate Goodman disciple commands the spotlight on almost every selection, and for good reason — he’s a world–class swing–based player whose melodious salvos never fail to please. Vocalist Paula Johns shares center stage on five of the ten big–band numbers (Sidney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur” is performed by a quintet, Charlie Shavers’ “Undecided” and Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” by a quartet, each led by Joe Midiri and including Paul on drums, bassist Bruce Kaminsky and guitarist Pat Mercuri with pianist Joe Holt added on “Petite Fleur”). Johns has a genial mid–range voice and sunny disposition that blend well with the orchestra’s swinging purpose, especially on “Come Dance with Me,” “Bye Bye Blackbird” and her call–and–response antics with the band on Sy Oliver / Trummy Young’s “’Tain’t What You Do” (with Joe Midiri on alto sax). She’s not the only singer; Jim Lawlor, who shares the drum chair with Paul Midiri, gives us the lowdown on “Caldonia” and Joe Midiri lays aside the reeds for a few moments to fashion a respectable Louis Armstrong impression on “I Want a Little Girl.” Joe Midiri shows his more pensive side on “Petite Fleur,” “Night and Day” and his transcription of Bob Haggart’s “My Inspiration,” and uses both alto and clarinet to hotfoot it through Tootie Camarata’s searing finale, the aptly named “Finger Bustin’.” Joe Midiri’s definitely the genuine article and the album’s forty–four minutes–plus contains lots of good music that’s fun to hear and appreciate.
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.