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The Midiri brothers, Joe and Paul, make no effort to hide their admiration for clarinetist Benny Goodman and his celebrated small groups of the ’30s, ’40s and onward, so when they were invited (for the second year in a row) to take part in promoter Bruce Gast’s annual salute to BG they wasted no time accepting the offer. After deciding this year to honor Benny’s sextet from the Charlie Christian era, Paul set to work copying the arrangements of Goodman classics from the original recordings. Even though this is a septet the difference is hardly noticeable as Joe, Paul and their collaborators nimbly reanimate the spirit of the Goodman group in a free–wheeling concert performance at Bridgewater, NJ. Actually, the first eight selections on the album were recorded in concert, the others six months later at the Midiri Studio. Paul Midiri plays unaccompanied vibes on two of them — Billy Strayhorn’s “Lotus Blossom” and the traditional hymn “How Great Thou Art” — while brother Joe, on clarinet, is joined by guitarist Pat Mercuri and bassist Gary Cattley on “Please,” those two plus Paul on “Emaline.” Guest pianist John Colianni helps enhance the in–person numbers, comping effectively throughout and framing tasteful introductory passages on the ballads “As Long as I Live” and “More Than You Know.” Paul plays drums on that tune, while Joe plays tenor instead of his usual clarinet “On the Alamo,” which is sandwiched between two all–time Goodman favorites, “I Found a New Baby” and the concert finale, “Seven Come Eleven.” Also on the program are “Six Appeal,” “Breakfast Feud” and “Gone with What Draft,” a perky World War II ensemble piece based on the chord changes to “Honeysuckle Rose.” The concert recording is generally bright and clear but sprinkled with ambient sound from the audience and whispered asides by the musicians. For those who remember fondly the Swing Era in general and the King of Swing in particular, a thoroughly agreeable comtemporary update.
Contact: Joseph Midiri, P.O. Box 961, Mays Landing, NJ 08330. Web site, www.midiribros.com
Track Listing: Six Appeal; Breakfast Feud; As Long as I Live; Gone with What Draft; More Than You Know; I Found a New Baby; On the Alamo; Seven Come Eleven; Please; Lotus Blossom; Emaline; How Great Thou Art (54:35).
Personnel: Joe Midiri, clarinet, tenor saxophone (