202

Craig Raymond & The Next Generation Big Jazz Band: Straight Ahead

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
Craig Raymond & The Next Generation Big Jazz Band: Straight Ahead This seasond big band has been around for decades, previously under the direction of the current leader's father, Al Raymond; it has recorded over twenty albums, the last several under Craig Raymond. The aptly titled Straight Ahead features tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna. Boasting some of the finest East Coast musicians from the Philadelphia, Atlantic City and New York areas, this working swing-dance band has earned a following on the wedding, ballroom dance and university circuit. However, this extraordinary session is a departure from that mold.

With all of the recent West Coast big band albums making most of the thunder in the big band genre these days, it is refreshing to hear an East Coast orchestra than can blow the house down with the best of them. Unlike the average album with eight to twelve tracks, Straight Ahead includes a generous seventeen soft and swinging big band charts. Saxophonists Grant Whisler and McKenna provide the majority of the arrangements. Besides these two artists, Raymond's band also features Mike Brignola on baritone, Count Basie trombonist Al Grey, British pianist Pete Jackson and a special guest, clarinet master Buddy DeFranco.

The openning number, "This Could Be The Start Of Something Big," provides a clue of what you can expect throughout this disc. "Swingsville," like its title implies, is a wonderful dance floor number that packs a punch. Saxophonist McKenna delivers the first of several passion-filled solo performances on the sweet and melodic "Tenderly." He does it again on the emotional, heart-melting "I Wanna Be Happy." Staying in the mellow mood, saxophonist Jeff Darrohn lends a moving solo to the slow ballad "Street Of Dreams."

Buddy DeFranco's arrangement of "I Remember Clifford" provides a dazzling display on clarinet. DeFranco stands front and center again on the familiar Weill & Nash composition "Speak Low," which roars through in an upbeat big band fashion. The group wraps it up with another rousing ensemble piece, "Orbit," which showcases Mckenna's skills on both tenor and alto as the band makes one final collective musical statement.

I found myself listening to this album often because there is so much here to enjoy. Whether you're looking for the sound of swing, you wish to relax to a slower ballad, or you just want to enjoy some straight jazz, you can find it all here. McKenna really shines and makes a compelling argument that he's one of the best reed players in the business; Raymond's band thunders through with an explosive and powerful performance.


Track Listing: This Could Be The Start Of Something Big; Swingsville; Tenderly; It's A Wonderful World; But Beautiful; Sorta Blue; Nite Train; Street Of Dreams; I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles; I Remember Clifford; Don't Be That Way; I Wanna Be Happy; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; I Wanna Be Loved; Speak Low; Theme From Jacqueline; Orbit.

Personnel: Craig Raymond: trumpet & bandleader; Buddy DeFranco: clarinet; Larry McKenna, Jeff Darrohn, Andrew Neu, Wendall Hobbs, Larry Iaccio, Grant Whisler, Mike Brignola, John Simon: saxophones; Kevin Rodgers, Tony DiSantis, Rick Gazda, Lin Biviano, Don Downs: trumpet; Chuck Dressler,Brian Pastor, Mike Purdy, Al Grey, Jose Vidal: trombones; Pete Jackson: piano; Kevin McConnel, Craig Thomas: bass; Tony Vigilante: drums.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Star Satelite Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Love Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Good 'n' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story" CD/LP/Track Review Good 'n' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Old Locks And Irregular Verbs" CD/LP/Track Review Old Locks And Irregular Verbs
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 18, 2016
Read "Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Azul Infinito" CD/LP/Track Review Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Azul Infinito
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 17, 2016
Read "Skronky Tonk" CD/LP/Track Review Skronky Tonk
by James Nadal
Published: June 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!