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Da Big Kahuna and the Copa Cat Pack: Hawaiian Swing

Jim Santella By

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Matt Catingub sings with a swing spirit that propels dancers to the floor and away from their small cocktail tables and comfortable seats. There’s nothing comfortable about his big band’s approach to rhythm; it rocks ‘em and socks ‘em with a punch. And that’s the problem. Catingub’s album is designed to attract joyous swing dancers to the physical side of the room, while the listening audience is pretty much left with brief three-minute melodies and nothing more. Where’s the beef?

Linda Harmon joins the band to offer sensuous vocal versions on several tracks; ten of the album’s sixteen selections are vocal numbers. Her singing style contrasts with Catingub’s; they alternate choruses on "Stompin’ at the Savoy" in a style similar to that of Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Catingub plays alto sax, sings, plays piano and writes. While his singing is more effective on the light "funny" numbers, the Big Kahuna makes his only artistic statements through his big band arrangements. Catingub’s strength is quite evident on his dramatic arrangement of "Night in Tunisia," which features trumpeter Mike Olmos and drummer Steve Moretti. Olmos returns to dress up "Pearly Shells" with a beautiful flugelhorn solo spot. The choice of material for Catingub’s Hawaii album results in a corny scene intended for dancing, perhaps at a wedding reception. "Blue Hawaii," "Pearly Shells" and "The Hukilau Song" are just the tip of the iceberg, as the band sings along in fun while the audience is left holding hands, half-sober, spinning a jitterbug.


Track Listing: Come On-A-My House; A-Tisket A-Tasket; Don

Personnel: Matt Catingub- vocals, alto sax, piano; Chris Pearson, Chad Hollingsworth- alto sax; David Wells- tenor sax; Jennifer Lovejoy- baritone sax; Dave Scott, Jason Ravina, Mike Olmos- trumpet; Doug Beavers, David Blacker- trombone; Dan Parenti- string bass; Steve Moretti- drums; Linda Harmon- vocals.

Title: Hawaiian Swing | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


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