Alan Kaplan’s name may be new to you but it’s well–known among music professionals in Los Angeles where he’s one of the area’s busiest and most sought–after studio musicians, having played trombone on everything from Star Trek
to The Simpsons
, Streisand concerts to Sleepless in Seattle,
not to mention thousands of cartoons and other films. Even though remarkably successful in those ventures, the youngest trombonist ever to play with the Buddy Rich band (he was nineteen at the time) always dreamed of someday recording an album of classic ballads specially arranged to accentuate his warm, sensuous horn. Lonely Town
is Kaplan’s dream come true. Backed by a large orchestra of strings, woodwinds and horns and playing charts by seven first–class arrangers, Kaplan pours heart and soul into fifteen ethereal ballads, five of which were recorded in 1996, the others last year. There’s little improvisation, and the finished product is reminiscent of those “late–night” albums for dancing or romancing fashioned nearly half a century ago by Jackie Gleason, Percy Faith, Mantovani and others, with Kaplan’s silky–smooth trombone supplanting Gleason’s charismatic trumpet soloist, Bobby Hackett, or Faith’s seductive oboe / English horn tandem as the dominant voice. Joe Curiale was the arranger / conductor in ’96, with four others — Russ Garcia, Bill Cunliffe, Tom Ranier, Steve Bernstein — sharing the podium on the more recent recording date (September ’01) and Hoyt Bohannon and Bob Alcivar supervising the “bonus tracks” (“Try to Remember,” “Don’t Like Goodbyes”), recorded last June and August. Kaplan is listed on “trombones,” as he becomes an electronically enhanced trombone “choir” on “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring” and the bonus tracks, the last two without the orchestra. Lonely Town,
while beautifully arranged and played, is by no means a Jazz album, something prospective buyers should keep in mind. This is an earnest valentine to those who remember and appreciate lovely music as it used to be played — signed, sealed and affectionately delivered by an unrepentant and extravagantly talented romanticist.