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Brienn Perry and the Woody Herman Orchestra: Live at FitzGerald's

Jack Bowers By

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Although recorded Live at FitzGerald’s in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn, singer Brienn Perry’s date with the Woody Herman Orchestra has “Las Vegas showroom” written all over it. Perhaps that’s Perry’s next stop; he certainly has the talent and personality to make a splash in the land of glitz and glitter. Have voice, will travel? A strong voice too, with excellent range, but not as heavy as, say, Kevin Mahogany or the late Joe Williams. Perry knows how to sell a lyric, and is undoubtedly even more impressive in person than on record.

There’s no information about him in the liner notes, so what we hear is what we get; don’t even know why he wears a patch over his left eye. What we do know is that Perry’s no amateur; he must have learned to sing this well somewhere. But the details of his odyssey have to remain a mystery, at least for now. Even so, I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of Mr. Perry. He’s the real deal. Oh, and so’s his back-up crew, even though this isn’t actually the “Woody Herman Orchestra” but a small part thereof (director Frank Tiberi, baritone saxophonist Mike Brignola) chaperoned by some of the Chicago area’s most in-demand sidemen, a number of whom have solid big-band experience of their own. In other words, this may not be undiluted Woody but it sure sounds like his band.

With one exception, Perry reprises well-known songs, paying his respects to the Woodchopper on “I’ve Got News for You” as well as to Williams (“Everyday I Have the Blues”), Frank Sinatra (“Fly Me to the Moon”), Billy Eckstine (“A Cottage for Sale”) and even Doris Day (“Secret Love”). The lone departure is Warren Kime’s tender “Song for Louis” (Armstrong) on which trumpeter Mike Plog solos. While Perry and the ensemble are securely in the driver’s seat, there are brief but effective pit stops along the road by saxophonists Tiberi, Lou Stockwell and Pete Gallio, trombonists Paul McKee and Tom Garling, trumpeter Rob Smith and pianist Richard Drexler.

This is a splendid debut (?) by a dynamic and personable young singer, impaired only by its 41:40 playing time.

Track Listing: Fly Me to the Moon; They Can

Personnel: Brienn Perry, vocals, with the Woody Herman Orchestra -- Frank Tiberi, Mike Brignola, Peter Gallio, John Wojciechowski, Louis Stockwell, reeds; Roger Ingram, Joey Tartell, Mike Plog, Rob Smith, Scott Wagstaff, trumpet; Paul McKee, Tom Garling, Tom Matta, trombone; Richard Drexler, piano; Terry Douds, bass; Bob Rummage, drums.

Title: Live at FitzGerald's | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Big Head Records


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