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Michael Gamble and The Rhythm Serenaders: Michael Gamble and The Rhythm Serenaders

Mark Sullivan By

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Swing Era music was exciting, infectiously rhythmic music, played for dancers. Bassist and bandleader Michael Gamble and the company of musicians making up The Rhythm Serenaders stay true to both the sound and the spirit of that time in this program of well known Swing standards, plus a few more obscure standards that might have been. They draw from the repertoires of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday,and Artie Shaw's Gramercy Five, to name a few. You can tell they're serious about it being dance music first, as they include BPM (Beats Per Minute) markings for all of the tracks.

The program opens with featured vocalist Laura Windley singing "Back In Your Own Back Yard" (a song associated with Billie Holliday and others): one of the familiar tunes that somehow failed to become a standard. She also sings "Fine and Mellow," another Holliday tune. "I Never Knew," "Seven Come Eleven," and "Pick-a-Rib" all come from the Benny Goodman Sextet, the last another obscurity. Drummer Russ Wilson makes a memorable impression as a vocalist on "There'll Be Some Changes Made" and "Who's Sorry Now."

It's such a great selection of music, with such uniformly good playing, that it seems unnecessary to single out any more highlights. There are fourteen musicians involved in the recording, but the core band includes Michael Gamble (bass), Keenan McKenzie (clarinet and saxophone), and Jonathan Stout (lead guitar): McKenzie and Stout account for many of the strongest solos. The tracks clock in at three to four minutes long, but the pianists and other horn players all get space to shine as well: they are all masters of the compact solo statement. A lovely take on "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" closes the set, a sentimental ode to swing, and the one track that was not crafted for the dance floor.

This is hot stuff, exciting music played with verve and skill. The 18 tunes on the physical CD and 23 on the download were recorded in just two days, a tribute to the able musicianship and familiarity with the music. Swing fans should not miss this.

Track Listing: Back In Your Own Back Yard; I Never Knew; Slidin’ And Glidin’; Seven Come Eleven; Pick- A- Rib; A Mellow Bit Of Rhythm; Sweets; There’ll Be Some Changes Made; Fine And Mellow; Bug In A Rug; He Ain’t Got Rhythm; Who’s Sorry Now; Woke Up Clipped; Rose Room; What A Night, What A Moon, What A Boy; Crazy About Lester; Scottie; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.

Personnel: Michael Gamble: bass; Keenan McKenzie: clarinet and saxophones; Jonathan Stout: lead guitar (all tracks except 11 & 13); Paul Cosentino: clarinet and saxophones(2,3,6,8,9,10,11,12,13,15,16); Russ Wilson: vocals(8,12), drums (1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15); Brooks Prumo: rhythm guitar (1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15); Gordon Au: trumpet (1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15); Craig Gildner: piano (1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15); Noah Hocker: trumpet (3, 4, 7, 8, 12, 16, 17, 18); James Posedel: piano (3, 4, 7, 8, 12, 16, 17, 18); Josh Collazo: drums (3, 4, 7, 8, 12, 16, 17, 18); Lucian Cobb: trombone (1, 6, 10, 13, 15); Laura Windley: vocals (1, 9, 11, 15); David Wilken: trombone (3, 8, 12, & 16).

Title: Michael Gamble and The Rhythm Serenaders | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Organic Records

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