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Guitarist Marty Grosz has fashioned a musical career playing American tunes with a jazz inflection and brilliant sense of humor for well over 40 years. He knows thousands of tunes and their origins and he's all about the song. His playing suggests the inventions of Carl Kress and Dick McDonough from the '30s and he has made countless albums, every one of which celebrates the history of this music.
His Hot Combination is a largish band made up of some of the true giants of this 'traditional' approach to jazz. Some of these tunes are familiar - "What'll I Do, You - but the majority are gems that Grosz has newly unearthed for his, and our, delectation. These players - with the reeds (Ken Peplowski and Scott Robinson) stating the melody - are countered effectively by trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso. Everything about these arrangements and these solos shows us a smile. And, it seems, Grosz would have it no other way. Even the longing in Berlin's "What'll I Do, You has a lilt and a jaunt that keeps it bubbling happily.
This album is graced by Grosz' spoke introductions to "Just a Gigolo and Grosz' own "English Blues is worth the price of admission, as are his informed and wacky notes on the tunes.
Many of the same players show up on the Jump album and once again they light up the sky. Grosz continues to pump life into old material - more accurately, he finds the life that's always pulsed in the American song. This incredible collection has 18 tunes, many well known, but Grosz and his boys (he once did lead a group called the Orphan Newsboys) don't know from tired nostalgia. Mention should be made that Grosz is a delightful singer too. He understands the importance of a lyric but he also knows that these words need the forward motion of a melody so they don't take themselves too seriously. This is not to suggest that these arrangements are silly. Hear the effervescent "Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat and even the sentimental "We'll Meet Again to see how effortlessly Grosz brings the mood of another time into today's troubled milieu and makes it work.
These musicians share that sense of effortlessness. It's a gas to have Vince Giordano along - does anyone else play the bass sax? (Well, yes, there's Scott Robinson who's here on both of these discs.) Grosz, Giordano and Arnie Kinsella also are a collective whiz at keeping the time popping.
Tracks and Personnel
And His Hot Combination
Tracks: Alabamy Home; Did I Remember?; If It Ain't Love; You; What'll I Do?; Don't Let It Bother You; I'd Rather Be with You; Murder in the Moonlight; Four or Five Times; Life Begins When You're in Love; Spoken Introduction to Just a Gigolo; Just a Gigolo; Spoken Introduction to English Blues; English Blues
Chasin' the Spots
Tracks: Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall; If I Didn't Care; I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire; When the Sun Goes Down; With Plenty of Money and You; Whispering Grass; Whoa Babe; Someone's Rocking My Dreamboat; Christopher Columbus; My Prayer; We'll Meet Again; I Cover the Waterfront; Let's Call the Whole Thing Off; When My Dreamboat Comes Home; I'm Getting Sentimental Over You; Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do; Maybe; Swing High, Swing Low.