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Australian Cotton Club Orchestra: Nice Work if You Can Get it

Mike Neely By

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Swing music is alive and well in Melbourne, Australia. Nice Work If You Can Get It showcases a solid regional band playing a lineup of attractively arranged standards. Since 1986 the Australian Cotton Club Orchestra has focused on big band jazz of the 1930’s and 40’s, mostly arranged by alto saxophonist Adrian Duff and leader/trombonist Tim Harding.

A savvy rhythm section of Peter de Ryk on piano, Mark Twigden on guitar, Simon Starr on string bass, and Peter Arnold on drums keeps this spirited band in the groove. Bassist Starr and drummer Arnold are particularly impressive, consistently providing a steady and lively pulse. In addition to a solid rhythm section, the Australian Cotton Club Orchestra has some soloists to boast of including guest trumpet Simon Stribling, tenor saxophonist James Newman, and pianist Peter de Ryk. This well rehearsed orchestra plays with assurance and spark. The sections interact smoothly and vigorously. These guys can really play.

The orchestra’s instrumental tracks are considerably more impressive than the uneven vocal tracks. Deborah Robertson does a fair job on the title track but struggles with "My Heart Stood Still." She can be self-conscious about her enunciation and accent, resulting in a break in the overall tone of her delivery. Adrian Duff’s vocals are the more accomplished, but throughout this recording the orchestra continues to be the main attraction.

Highlights of this session include Ellington’s "Jig Walk," Lester Young’s "Tickle Toe," Delaney’s "Jazz Me Blues," and Warren’s "9:20 Special." In short, here’s a smart swing orchestra that has the spirit and the musicians to bring the great tradition of big band jazz to Australia. The Melbourne area is the luckier for it.

The Australian Cotton Club Orchestra and Yandoo Productions can be contacted at timlisa@ozemail.com.au

Track Listing: Jig Walk; Jazz Me Blues; Nice Work if You Can Get it; After You've Gone; Brazil; My Walking Stick; My Heart Stood Still; All the things you are; I Would Do Anything for You; Improvisation No.2; Royal Garden Blues; Memories of you; Georgia Swing; Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You; Tickle Toe; 9:20 Special.

Personnel: Vinne Bourke, trumpet; Paul Dooley, trumpet; Marc Mathews, trombone; Tim Harding, trombone; Adrian Daff, alto sax; Martin Corcoran, alto sax; James Newman, tenor sax; Peter de Ryk, keyboards; Mark Twigden, guitar; Peter Arnold, drums and percussion. Special Guests: Deborah Robertson, vocals on 3 tracks; Simon Stribling, trumpet 4 tracks and bass sax, 1 track; Tim Shaw, clarinet 3 tracks and alto clarinet 1 track; Tony Orr, banjo; and Simon Starr bass, all tracks except two.

| Record Label: Yandoo Productions | Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


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