Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

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.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Songbook Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook Volume 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 12, 2017
Read "Dance of Time" CD/LP/Track Review Dance of Time
by Jeff Winbush
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell" CD/LP/Track Review Peace and Love: A Tribute to Will Connell
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Vision Songs Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Vision Songs Vol. 1
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 8, 2018
Read "Before The Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Astoria Roots Live" CD/LP/Track Review Astoria Roots Live
by James Nadal
Published: May 17, 2017