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Tom Lundberg: Prime Time

Jack Bowers By

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It was only a matter of (prime) time until someone decided to lend a jazz spin to a number of nighttime television's most popular and enduring theme songs. The number here is twelve, the someone in question trombonist Tom Lundberg who leads a trim and versatile octet through its paces on the suitably named Prime Time, performing generally well-drawn arrangements by Terry Vosbein.

While Vosbein does the best he can, reupholstering these themes is no easy task, as none was written with jazz at its core and some stubbornly resist such a change in their essential makeup. Lundberg and the ensemble press on, however, and manage to wrest some swing from, for example, Randy Newman's "It's a Jungle Out There" (from Monk), Merv Griffin's clock-like "Jeopardy Theme," Jose Feliciano's "Chico and the Man," "Movin' on Up" from The Jeffersons and "The Muppet Show Theme." There's also a nice Latin beat to "Love Is All Around" from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The theme from Frasier elicits a bluesy, Pink Panther-style ambiance, while Lundgren's Tommy Dorsey-like trombone paints a pretty picture on "Chico and the Man." Completing the program are "And Then There's Maude," the "Night Court Theme," Quincy Jones' funky "Sanford and Son Theme" and the theme from "The Rockford Files.`" Lundberg, whose trombone is the octet's lone brass instrument, shares the front line with saxophonists Will Boyd and Doug Rinaldo and violinist bethany hankins, each of whom solos capably when called upon. Ben Dockery is splendid on piano and organ, leading a rhythm section that includes guitarist Harold Nagge, bassist David Slack and drummer Keith Brown.

Prime Time was recorded in concert at Washington & Lee University, a detail that is made irrelevant by the erasure of audience response at the end of each number (why that is done is anyone's guess). Be that as it may, three stars for concept, sound quality and performance.

Track Listing: It’s a Jungle Out There; The Muppet Show Theme; Love Is All Around; Theme from Frasier; And Then There’s Maude; Jeopardy Theme; Night Court Theme; Movin’ on Up; Chico and the Man; Mannix Theme; Sanford and Son Theme; The Rockford Files.

Personnel: Terry Vosbein: arranger; Tom Lundberg: leader, trombone; Doug Rinaldo: saxes, flute; Will Boyd: saxes, flute; Bethany Hankins: violin; Ben Dockery: keyboards; Harold Nagge: guitar; David Slack: bass; Keith Brown: drums.

Title: Prime Time | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Max Frank Music

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