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H.B. Radke & the Jet City Swingers: Live!

Jack Bowers By

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This is hardly Jazz, but like much of the neo­swing music being heard these days, it’s a lot of fun. The album cover says Live!, so we’ll have to concede the point, even though it’s hard to tell whether the “audience” is real or electronically created. Whichever the case, the applause is well­earned, as H.B. Radke and the Jet City Swingers orchestrate an entertaining show and garnish every number with liberal slices of energy and enthusiasm. Radke’s no Louis Prima (although no doubt influenced by Louis, as are many swing­based vocalists) but he has a pleasant baritone voice and sings on key, which is a definite asset, as he is center stage on almost every number. Radke wrote five of them (“Sucker for Love,” “Dig That Cat on Bass,” “Martini (Extra Dry),” “Baby Skye” and the Swingers’ theme), drummer Greg Williamson one (“Shake Shake Shake”). The others are familiar standards including two (“I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “I Get a Kick Out of You”) on which Radke’s apparent impersonation of Sinatra lands well short of the mark. While he doesn’t try to emulate Prima (a wise decision), Radke does pay tribute to the irrepressible Italian with a pair of medleys and to songwriter Burt Bacharach with two of his chart­toppers, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and “This Guy’s in Love.” Completing the program are an “occult medley” (“Witchcraft,” “That Old Black Magic,” the theme from TV’s “Bewitched”) and songs made popular by Nat King Cole (“Straighten Up and Fly Right”) and John Denver (“Leaving on a Jet Plane”). The Swingers are there to provide vocal and instrumental support, which they do quite nicely, and Live! or otherwise, Radke’s playful ensemble is a pleasure to hear.

Contact:Pony Boy Records, Seattle, WA (phone 206­522­2210). E­mail biggroove@accessone.com. Web sites, www.ponyboyrecords.com; www.radke.com


Title: Live! | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Pony Boy Records

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