Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


The Big Band Sound: Live and Swingin'!

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
We should begin by stating the obvious — The Big Band Sound, which has been performing in and around New York’s Hudson River Valley since 1975, is an amateur endeavor. On Live and Swingin’! the BBS recreates in its fashion many of the familiar songs from the Swing Era, blending a few more recent works (Sammy Nestico’s “Fun Time” and “Ya Gotta Try,” Don Sebesky’s “The Swinger,” Lennie Niehaus / Bill Holman’s “Theme and Variations,” the Sinatra favorite “Fly Me to the Moon”), most everything designed for dancing and listening, as used to be the case when big bands were king of the hill. There’s an audience here, and it sounds like the large economy size; ample background chatter and apparently no effort made to keep the noise level down. On the contrary, everyone seems to be enjoying thoroughly the Big Band Sound, which in a perfect world is as it should be. As is sometimes the case with live recordings, balance is problematic — drummer Mark Pozza seems often to be hammering on bricks instead of skins (Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” is especially clamorous), while, on the other hand, Bill Ashby’s piano sounds thin and anemic. Brass and reeds do the best they can, but there are a number of audible “clams” and difficulties with intonation and precision that set them apart from those who play on a daily basis. The recording itself doesn’t do them any favors either. Solos are for the most part brief and cautious, and the vocalists (Mike Amarello on “Marie” and “Summer Wind,” and especially Leslie Bellini on “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Fly Me to the Moon”) are barely tolerable. There’s an amorphous group vocal by the band as well, on the Johnny Long hit “Shanty in Old Shanty Town.” Although no one would ever confuse The Big Band Sound with the bands of yesteryear whose music they are emulating, the ensemble is out there in the trenches doing its utmost to keep this marvelous genre alive and swinging, and one can only appreciate and applaud the endeavor even as he acknowledges its all–too–conspicuous blemishes. Director Dave Cole’s Big Band Sound means to entertain, which it does, and if the performance is less than perfect, at least it is striving to achieve its purpose, and this country could benefit greatly if many more like–minded ensembles were to pick up the gauntlet and keep on swingin’ as well as they know how simply for the sheer pleasure of helping other people unwind and enjoy themselves, as the big bands did in the good old days.

Track listing: Strike Up the Band; Marie; Satin Doll; By Myself; It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; Jump, Jive and Wail; Leap Frog; Shanty Town; Fun Time; Sing, Sing, Sing; In the Mood; Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; Ya Gotta Try; Summer Wind; Swing, Swing, Swing; Two O’Clock Jump; Fly Me to the Moon; The Swinger; Theme and Variations; Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy; Sweet Georgia Brown (73:25).


Dave Cole, director, alto sax, clarinet; George Hanson, alto sax; Roger D

Title: Live and Swingin'! | Year Released: 2000


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Celebrating William Parker at 65 CD/LP/Track Review Celebrating William Parker at 65
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Eternal Life CD/LP/Track Review Eternal Life
by Jerome Wilson
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Shades Of Life" CD/LP/Track Review Shades Of Life
by James Nadal
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "Right Up On" CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Quartet Plus, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Quartet Plus, Volume 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Langen ro" CD/LP/Track Review Langen ro
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "WashAshore" CD/LP/Track Review WashAshore
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 30, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!