168

The Fabulous Studio Band: Still Swingin' After All These Years/Plays Capitol Jazz

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The Fabulous Studio Band, formed in 1953 and based in California’s San Joaquin Valley, is devoted to keeping alive music from the swing and big band eras. These albums, recorded four years apart ( Still Swingin’ in 1996, Capitol Jazz in 2000), accentuate charts from the Glenn Miller and Count Basie libraries with a handful representing Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Les Brown and others.

The members of the band, which is directed by trumpeter Jim Kusserow, aren’t professional musicians but students at Porterville High School and Porterville Community College. How do they sound? Well, like students in a high school and community college. In other words, any resemblance to Miller, Basie, Goodman, Kenton or the others is brief and infrequent. That’s not a put-down, simply a fact. The FSB is doing the very best it can but is unable to sound like a professional band because it hasn’t enough talent or experience, and the unremitting changes in personnel work against closeness and cohesion. On the other hand, these students are gaining valuable exposure to big-band music, and that’s a good thing. Some may decide to pursue music as a profession, and that’s a good thing too.

Meanwhile, the FSB keeps on performing, not only in California but on road trips to Seattle, New Orleans, San Antonio, Houston, Shreveport, Las Vegas, Dallas, Charlotte, Richmond and other ports of call including the nation’s capital, to which visit Capitol Jazz is dedicated. That session, recorded in only four hours, boasts a number of more contemporary arrangements, most notably by Mark Taylor (“Bye Bye Blackbird”), Tom Kubis (“When You’re Smilin’”), Lennie Niehaus (“Almost Like Being in Love”) and Dave Wolpe (“Sentimental Journey”). With almost no one on board who played on Still Swingin’,” the band sounds roughly the same, undergoing the usual struggles with harmony, tempo and modulation, but alto Brendan Black does have a fairly decent solo on “Smilin’.”

While I can’t honestly recommend either of these recordings to those who may be looking for top-notch big band albums, I can convey my admiration and best wishes to Jim Kusserow and the FSB for their earnest efforts over half a century to support the cause of big band jazz and help keep the memory of its Golden Age from vanishing.


Track Listing: Still Swingin

Personnel: Still Swingin

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Independent Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "This is Life" CD/LP/Track Review This is Life
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 29, 2016
Read "Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series Vol. 5" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom Jazz Dance: The Bootleg Series Vol. 5
by Doug Collette
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "Reflection" CD/LP/Track Review Reflection
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Morning Glory" CD/LP/Track Review Morning Glory
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 8, 2016
Read "Summer Skyshift" CD/LP/Track Review Summer Skyshift
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky" CD/LP/Track Review The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!