Home » Jazz Articles » Jerry Drake: A Tribute To The Big Bands, Songs From My Heart & Lat...


Multiple Reviews

Jerry Drake: A Tribute To The Big Bands, Songs From My Heart & Latin Latitudes


Sign in to view read count
Three albums by New York-based—are you ready— composer/arranger/trumpeter/trombonist/pianist/vocalist Jerry Drake. If you're thinking it looks like Drake's a one-man band, it only appears that way. There's a full ensemble—the Front Page Big Band—backing him, but he's definitely the top gun, singing and/or soloing on every number.

All three albums, it has to be said, would comfortably fit together on a single CD with room and to spare.

Jerry Drake And The Front Page Big Band
A Tribute To The Big Bands
Self Published

The first of the three albums—and the briefest at 18:29—is A Tribute To The Big Bands. It doesn't include any familiar themes from the big band era but consists rather of five original compositions by Drake which are meant to evoke the spirit of that fondly remembered time. Drake sings on every one, but to be honest, his voice seems more suited to talking than singing, sort of like Bert Parks warbling "There she is, Miss America... A nice change of pace, but one always sensed that Bert was far more comfortable as an emcee. Drake's songs are on the same plane, suitable for intimate nightspots or neighborhood parties, but hardly ready for prime time or the Palace.

Jerry Drake And The Front Page Big Band
Songs From My Heart
Self Published

On Songs From My Heart, Drake recalls people and events that have touched his life (vacations, father/son and boy/girl relationships, loved ones who've departed), closing with a trilogy dedicated to Vietnam ("The Boy Who Missed Christmas Day,") 9/11 ("To Be A Fireman ) and World War II ("The Greatest Generation. ) The best that can be said for Drake's lyrics is that they get the point across and often rhyme—more like commentary set to music than bona fide songs. He sings on every track, sometimes accompanied by a chorus. There are no instrumental solos, nor is the band's personnel listed.

Jerry Drake And The Front Page Big Band
Latin Latitudes
Self Published

As its title implies, the last of these albums is devoted to music from south of the border, written and arranged by Drake. The rhythms run the gamut from samba, cha cha and merengue to bolero, bossa and calypso. Again, Drake sings on every number, and solos on all but one. And again, the lyrics are serviceable but no more than that. Drake's vocals might best be described as sincere.

If you're having a party (and have some space), the Front Page Big Band may be the kind of group you'd choose to entertain your guests. If you're looking for jazz or even classic big band sounds, look elsewhere.

Tracks and Personnel

A Tribute To The Big Bands

Tracks: Doin' The Savoy; Just Once In A While; Do You Remember?; Distant Lights; The New Boogie Woogie.

Personnel: Jerry Drake: leader, trumpet, trombone, organ, piano, vocals; Jay Hagen, Jim Colarusso, Joe Capadicasa: trumpet; Lou Caputo, Don Payne: alto sax; John Ruta, Arthur Miller: tenor sax; Rudy Williams: baritone sax; Frank Padulla, Michael Oluert, Irwin Karan, Tom Atherton: trombone; John Miller: piano; Ed Rossi: guitar; Esdras Lubin: bass; Percy Brice: drums.

Songs From My Heart

Tracks: Island Breeze; Googie And Scogie; Oh Girl!; Lights Across The Sky; Trilogy: The Boy Who Missed Christmas; To Be A Fireman; The Greatest Generation.

Personnel: No personnel listed.

Latin Latitudes

Tracks: Samba Dance; Cha Cha School; Dr. Merengue; Fantasy Bolero; About The Bossa Nova; It's Calypso, It's Such A Show.

Personnel: Jerry Drake: leader, trumpet, trombone, organ, piano, vocals; Jay Hagen, Guido Gonzales: Donna Rossi: trumpet; Don Payne: alto sax; Arthur Miller: tenor sax; Bobby Nelson: baritone sax; Frank Padulla, Irwin KAran, Tom Atherton, Wayne Johnson: trombone; Bruce Gordon: bass; Percy Brice: drums.

Post a comment

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Love & Peace
Diego Rivera
Fire Illuminations
Wadada Leo Smith
Fire! Orchestra
Cecile McLorin Salvant


Bobo Stenson Trio
David Lyttle & Phil Robson
Notespeak 12
Lisa Marie Simmons

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.