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Chuck Findley with the Metropole Orchestra: Star Eyes

Jack Bowers By

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Trumpeter Chuck Findley, who’s seen and heard most often these days (evenings) with Kevin Eubanks and the Tonight Show band, recorded this pleasant, even–tempered album some time ago (how long isn’t clear) with the large and always impressive Metropole Orchestra under former conductor Rob Pronk who also wrote all the charts. Findley once shared an album with Bobby Shew ( Trumpets No End, I believe). I couldn’t tell them apart then, and couldn’t do so now, even if Regis were asking and a million dollars was at stake. If you dig Bobby (and there are many who do), you’ll dig Chuck too. Lovely sound, enviable technique, has trumpet (and flugelhorn), can (and does) swing. The flugel is employed on three tracks (“You Are Too Beautiful,” “For Heaven’s Sake,” “Street of Dreams”), the trumpet on the other seven. Pronk keeps the landscape lush and the tempos varied, with leisurely readings of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and “Street of Dreams” enclosing three ballads and five bouncier numbers, only one of which, Pronk’s rhythmic “Just a Tad,” should be new to most listeners. Even “Being Green” (beautifully played by Findley), introduced to American audiences by the late Jim Henson, a.k.a. Kermit the Frog, is reasonably well–known. On the debit side, I’m no great admirer of the fade–out (the lazy planner’s solution), a device that is used twice here, on “Just a Tad” and Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love.” A favorite track? That’s hard to say, but if pressed I’d have to choose Irving Berlin’s “The Best Thing for You,” one of my all–time favorite melodies whose charming arrangement underscores Findley’s crackling solo. Everything else, it should be noted, is altogether agreeable save for the less–than–ample 42:33 playing time. But that’s a small enough price to pay to hear Findley unshackled and playing the kind of Jazz he can only dream about while earning his bread with the colorless Tonight Show ensemble.

Track Listing: The Surrey with the Fringe on Top; Just a Tad; Being Green; Star Eyes; You Are Too Beautiful; What Is This Thing Called Love; I Love You; The Best Thing for You; For Heaven

Personnel: Chuck Findley, trumpet, flugelhorn, with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra conducted by Rob Pronk.

Title: Star Eyes | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: CBF Music


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