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Sentimental Journey Orchestra: On the Bandstand

Jack Bowers By

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Sometimes the name says it all. The Atlanta-based Sentimental Journey Orchestra plays music from the Big Band Era in a pleasant, danceable style. It wouldn't have been out of place On the Bandstand, when big bands held sway throughout the land more than half a century ago.

As it is, the SJO has been on the scene for more than a few years itself, as On The Bandstand, recorded in april 2006, marks its thirtieth anniversary. Any ensemble has to have something going for it to stay together that long, and in this case it's a sizable library of favorites from the Great American Songbook, all played with charm and finesse by a well-rehearsed group of part-timers whose earnestness helps offset an unavoidable lack of freshness and surprise.

The playlist should be familiar to any big-band enthusiast, from "Two O'Clock Jump and "Beautiful Ohio to "More Than You Know, "Tuxedo Junction, "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries and other popular melodies from a bygone era. The SJO provides capable albeit less than heart-stopping readings, with brief but decorous solos interspersed.

Of course, any ensemble that was active during the big bands' heyday had to have at least one resident singer. The SJO has two, Stephen Martin and Amy Holloway. Martin has a pleasant voice but sounds more than a bit shaky and unsure of himself on three numbers—"Singin' with the Big Bands, "How Little We Know and "Teach Me Tonight. Holloway sings amiably on "Cherries, "I Just Found Out About Love, "There Will Never Be Another You and "Georgia, but sounds for the most part like almost any other anonymous band singer one may have chanced upon.

In sum, this is dance music with a slight twist of improvisation added to enhance the flavor. While the orchestra plays well enough, the album is clearly aimed toward those whose nostalgia for the Big Band Era and its music remains keen. As that is its goal, mission accomplished.


Track Listing: Two O

Personnel: Dave Keezer: trumpet; Charlie Sammons: trumpet; Jerry Dibble: trumpet; Terry Meadows: trumpet; Steve Musker: trumpet; Rick Tardiff: alto sax; David Olson: alto sax; Reed Lukat: tenor sax; David Smiley: tenor sax; David Lester: baritone sax; Henry Mason: trombone; Hector Bourg Jr.: trombone; Bernie Tuvin: trombone; Bill Redgate: bass trombone; Dan Turner: piano; Jerry Aull: guitar; Lauren Hunt: bass; Billy Moore: drums; Stephen Martin, Amy Holloway: vocals.

Title: On the Bandstand | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: SJO


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