382

Chris Dean's Syd Lawrence Orchestra: Re:generation

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Dean's Syd Lawrence Orchestra: Re:generation Great Britain has always had a fairly large number of active big bands but no more than a handful have stood the test of time, retaining their popularity and audience as musical tastes and listening habits evolved, or as some might argue, declined. For years, the Ted Heath Orchestra was far and away the country's gold standard when it came to big bands. Its contemporary and worthy heir to the throne is the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, now led by trombonist Chris Dean. It has been named Britain's most popular ensemble for nine years in a row by readers of the British-based magazine Big Bands International.

The SLO was formed in 1967 by trumpeter/arranger Lawrence who led the band for nearly three decades before stepping aside and handing the baton to Dean in 1996. Since then, Dean has recruited a number of talented young musicians who have not only kept the Lawrence legacy alive but amplified a tradition of excellence that has enabled to SLO to carry on a busy schedule as it continues to lead the annual big-band polls.

Re:generation celebrates the SLO's marvelous forty-year history via a dazzling array of memorable tunes from the Great American Songbook, an English folk medley, Neal Hefti's Jazz standard, "Splanky, and one of Lawrence's Glenn Miller-like compositions, "Evening Serenade. The band leads with its strength, showcasing standout drummer Mike Smith (with pianist Trevor Brown and bassist Andre Messeder) on Jimmy Mundy's sizzling arrangement (written for the Basie band in 1945) of Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein's "Ol' Man River from the groundbreaking Broadway musical Showboat.

Trumpeter Russell Bennett is featured on "Evening Serenade, trombonist Jon Stokes on Colin Skinner's sly arrangement of "Baby Won't You Please Come Home, while Dean and fellow trombonist Ian Moffat share the honors on "When You Wish Upon a Star. There are splendid vocals along the way by Angie Mills on "It's a Most Unusual Day, Eleanor Keenan on "Maybe This Time, Dean himself on "Portrait of My Love and "As Long as I'm Singing, and the Serenaders (Dean, Mills, Moffat, Skinner) on the perky Glenn Miller evergreen, "Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Would that there were space to appraise the rest, as everything is delightful in its own way, especially the rhapsodic English folk medley. Suffice to say that the SLO more than validates its exemplary reputation. Kudos to the able soloists, the persuasive brass and reeds, and the sharp and vigilant rhythm section. If you're a fan of the Big Band Era and mourn its untimely passing, you're gonna love the SLO.


Track Listing: Ol

Personnel: Chris Dean: music director, trombone, vocals; Mike Lovatt: trumpet; Tony Dixon: trumpet; Andy Gray: trumpet; Russell Bennett: trumpet; Richard Freeman: trumpet; Colin Skinner: reeds; Howard McGill: reeds; Paul Fawcus: reeds; Mike Hope: reeds; Loren Hignell: reeds; Jay Craig: reeds; Ian Moffat: trombone; Jon Stokes: trombone; Richard Wigley: trombone; Darren Smith: trombone; Andy Waddicor: trombone; Trevor Brown: piano; Judd Procter (7, 13): guitar; Andre Messeder: bass; Mike Smith: drums; Eleanor Keenan: vocals; Angie Mills: vocals.

Title: Re:generation | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: IMCD


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "The Dreamer Is the Dream" CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Matador 4" CD/LP/Track Review Matador 4
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "The Complete Syllables Music" CD/LP/Track Review The Complete Syllables Music
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Ashé" CD/LP/Track Review Ashé
by James Nadal
Published: July 11, 2016
Read "OUTgoing" CD/LP/Track Review OUTgoing
by Budd Kopman
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "The Lightning Bell" CD/LP/Track Review The Lightning Bell
by John Eyles
Published: July 19, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.