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H2 Big Band: It Could Happen

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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From one perspective, It Could Happen is a teaser title for this big band recording. Sure, it's a perseveration of one of the scrumptious cuts on this cake. However, like a fine Le Cordon Bleu recipe, if you heap eleven exceptionally well-written GAS and original selections into the pot and set great charts before some of the finest cookers this side of Eiffel, season with solo and vocal work that boils with sass, and viola!great music does happen. In this their third collaboration, pianist /arranger Dave Hanson and trumpeter Al Hood have concocted a supremely swinging, gloriously arranged and performed feast. There's new-old gold ("The Look of Love," "You Go to My Head," "It Could Happen to You") and freshly minted platinum ("C.P. You"—which is a re-worked Cole Porter classic, "I Love You"—"Lynda B," and "B in C" (Hanson obviously digs his alphas.)

Commencing with a little magic of their own, H2BB kicks the date off with Lee Morgan's catchy Bopper, "Hocus Pocus." From Bar One, Hanson's superior writing and orchestration skills -and this band's joie de Bop -jump out at you like an IMAX 3D screen gem. And, it isn't long before the band's star soloists start to parade their stuff. Vocalist/songwriter, René Marie adds "Eartha" heat with a very sultry, "Black Lace Freudian Slip." Ms. Marie, who offered three fine originals to the session, is a terrific chanteuse who never shies away from inflecting a lyric with passion and depth. While "slipping" and "looking for love," she could probably have old Sigmund tossing his cigar and begging for more from his all-too-cooperating songstress.

Dave Hanson's arranging is "write" out of the Thad Jones Manual of Style. Neatly orchestrated unisons, soprano sax-led sax section solis all enter into play. His pen shrewdly challenges and entices studio types with familiar First Call surnames—Bergeron, Martin, Stout, Saunders, McChesney, Berghofer and La Barbera. And, as expected, they deliver the packages First Class. Hanson's solo piano rides also shine. Trumpeter Hood demos that, while he resides at altitude in Colorado, he is as fiercely swinging, inventive and involved as any horn guy at any level from Death Valley to Everest.

It Could Happen is hip, swinging and supremely engaging. So good, it's its own dessert. Grab a spoon.

Track Listing: Hocus Pocus; Black Lace Freudian Slip; C.P. You; The Look of Love; It Could Happen to You; The Healing Hymn; I Like You; Lynda B; B in C; Autobiography; You Go to My Head.

Personnel: Jeff Tower: conductor; Al Hood: co-leader, trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Hanson: co-leader, piano, synthesizer; Wayne Bergeron: trumpet; Carl Saunders: trumpet; Ron Stout: trumpet; Gary Foster: alto sax, flute, clarinet; Rich Chiaraluce: alto sax, flute; Rob Lockart: tenor sax, flute; Brandon Fields: tenor sax, flute; Adam Schroeder: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Bob Sheppard: saxophones (1); Andy Martin: trombone; Bob McChesney: trombone; Alex Iles: trombone; Bill Reichenbach: bass trombone; Larry Koonse: guitar (3, 4, 9, 10); Chuck Berghofer: bass; Joe LaBarbera: drums; Luis Conte: percussion (4). Strings (tracks 4, 10) – Robert Peterson: violin; Jerry Hilera: violin; Ed Persi: viola; John Acosta: cello. Special Guest – Rene Marie: vocals (2, 4, 7, 10).

Title: It Could Happen | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Origin Records

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