There are at least three kinds of big bands on today's scene. The first creates new big band music such as groups led by Carla Bley and Maria Schneider. Then there are those that combine new music with fresh arrangements of classic big band material. A good example here is Pete Peterson's excellent Dallas-based Jazz Collection Orch. Finally, there's the type of band represented by Joe Battaglia's N. Y. Big Band which sports outstanding members, but relies mainly on existing charts. On this album, Battaglia uses well known arrangements by Billy May and Sammy Nestico, among others. So the obvious question is since there is nothing truly new, why bother? I suggest a couple of answers. First, these guys can play, ensemble and solo work are excellent. Second, this album is like a compilation, bringing together fine arrangements from past masters as well as some from newer contributors, such as Kris Berg's chart for Candy and John Berry's orchestration for "What's New".
Leader Battaglia's trumpet, which solos on a number of cuts, shows a penchant for Harry James on "My Funny Valentine and "Carnival". But Battaglia's work doesn't have as much vibrato as James was wont to employ. Other commendable solos come from Schep Pullman's alto on "Tenderly" and "Stardust" and Danny Repole's trombone on "Someone to Watch over Me". Surprisingly absent is the up front, on top drumming heard in many of today's bands. You know Percy Brice is there, but he goes about his task subtly, much in the manner of the great Dave Tough. If you are interested in solid big band music without having to have a lot of new stuff, you could a do lot worse than this album. "Carnival" and "I Get a Kick out of You" are in reverse order than shown in the play list. Recommended.
Track Listing: "Yo-o Go Jo - Po"; My Funny Valentine; The Shadow of Your Smile; Tenderly; Carnival; I Get a Kick out of You; Stardust; Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead; What's New; Sonny's Place; Precious Medley; Candy; Serenata; The trolley Song; Someone to Watch over Me
Personnel: Joe Battaglia - Leader/Trumpet; Jim Colarusso, John Scorzello, Ron Martin - Trumpet; Danny Repole, Frank Vaccaro, Irvin Karan, Bill Cordone - Trombone; Schep Pullman, Keith Gurland - Alto Sax; John Ruta, Marcello Blanca - Tenor Sax; Richard Johnson - Baritone Sax; Joel Mofsenson - Piano; Percy Brice - Drums; Vic Lella - Guitar; Richard Skrabar - Bass