Another gem for those who like their swing served straight up. Recorded in Texas at Willie Nelson's studio (!), this is a propulsive, happy session where the group doesn't catch its breath till past halfway with "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing," the only ballad in the bunch. (Even "When You Wish Upon a Star" is taken up-tempo.)
Butch Miles, a fine, slamming drummer in the Rich tradition, has a pedigree that includes two long stints with Basie, time with Tormé and Brubeck, and work with nearly everyone else. Here he enlists bassist Lynn Seaton, another Basie alum who, aside from his reliably excellent playing and imaginative solos, contributes some amusing Slam Stuart-esque vocalizing on "Frank's Blues," one of the CD's highlights. It was written by trumpeter Bob Ojeda during a lunch break in the studio, and in fact most of the compositions are his; while they're all pleasant, and "After Hours" is a tuneful rumba, in general they're more canvases for the band to stretch out on than melodic groundbreakers. But considering how well this group stretches out, that isn't a bad thing at all.
Other notable moments include the classical guitar intro to Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville" and Kenny Drew Jr's strong, fluid playing throughout, especially on "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing," which is especially lyrical. Reportedly a one-take track, this lovely tune is marred slightly - but not fatally - by the salience of the brushes, but otherwise the mix is well-balanced. Frank Wess's contributions on sax and flute (six tracks in all) are also splendid. All told, it's a buoyant, well-executed excursion, and great fun to take.
Hangover Blues, Another Drum Thing, Frank's Blues, Cute, Dreamsville, When You Wish Upon a
Star, A Flower is a Lovesome Thing, Quick Fix, After Hours, Outside Inn, I'm Leavin'
Butch Miles (drums), Bob Ojeda (trumpet), Bill Porter (trombone), Doug Lawrence (tenor sax), Kenny
Drew Jr. (piano), Lynn Seaton (bass), with Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute) and Alex Saudargas
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