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As one who loves big bands but is seldom excited by vocalists (Sinatra and Garland are two notable exceptions), I cringe whenever a superlative ensemble like Denmark’s Klüvers Big Band chooses to play back–up to a singer, as it does for Jesper Bjarnesen on Good Times, recorded in October ’99. Not that Bjarnesen sings poorly; he’s a fairly capable belter on the order of the guy who used to sing lead for Blood, Sweat and Tears (I know so little about vocalists I can’t even remember the name). But Bjarnesen is featured on every one of the thirteen selections, which is well above our self–prescribed scale of tolerance for big–band recordings (no more than one vocal for every five or six instrumental tracks). With that in mind, listening to the album was a study in mixed emotions; admiration for the band coupled with exasperation for its subordinate role in the endeavor. The ensemble does lend great support to Bjarnesen who may be a Danish superstar, for all we know, and there are some respectable solos as well, principally by alto “Chappe” Jensen, tenor Michael Bladt, trumpeter Torben Sminge and guitarist Søren Bo Addemos. Klüver, who plays alto on occasion, trades fours with Addemos on ”All Right, Okay, You Win.” But for this big–band enthusiast, that’s hardly enough to keep the ship afloat. If, on the other hand, one appreciates a moderately engaging vocalist backed by a topnotch big band, then by all means he or she should let the Good Times roll.
Contact:Klüvers Big Band, Karetmagergaarden, Graven 25, Denmark 80000. Phone +45 86 20 16 88; e–mail email@example.com; web site, www.cdjazz.com
Track Listing: I Will Be There; I Want a Little Girl; Georgia on My Mind; All Right, Okay, You Win; Them There Eyes; Come Rain or Come Shine; Let the Good Times Roll; Yesterday I Had the Blues; Woman Got Soul; Orange Colored Sky; Never Make Your Move too Soon; Who Can I Turn To?; I Can See Clearly Now (50:44).
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.