The Omaha Big Band: Swing This!

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The Omaha Big Band: Swing This! July and August aren’t the only things that are hot in Nebraska. The Omaha Big Band produces some sparks of its own on Swing This!, a scorching debut album that finds the 17–member ensemble swinging lustily through a tasteful program of Jazz standards and contemporary charts. The band is obviously well–rehearsed and ready, and there’s little to find fault with aside from the recording’s “concert hall” ambiance, which lessens its over–all clarity, the too–sluggish tempo on Tom Kubis’ marvelous arrangement of “When You’re Smilin’,” and an almost imperceptible slip by the brass on Joe Garland’s “In the Mood.” These modest blemishes are more than overshadowed by the OBB’s propensity to cook as brashly as the occasion demands, starting with Gordon Goodwin’s driving arrangement of “I’ve Found a New Baby” (with solos to match by trumpeter Charles Saenz and tenor Stan Harper). The rest of the program consists mainly of familiar fare by Basie (“One O’Clock Jump”), Strayhorn / Ellington (“Satin Doll,” “Take the ‘A’ Train”), Neal Hefti (“Li’l Darlin’”) and Louis Prima (“Sing, Sing, Sing”), the lively “Bugle Call Rag” and impressive new compositions by Dave Metzger (“Makin’ Bacon”), Jeff Jarvis (“Count on It”) and the Mambo Kings (“Mambo Caliente,” on which percussionist Michael Pujado is added). The OBB’s professionalism is conspicuous in the tight ensemble work, while the soloists, if less than awesome, are consistently enterprising with drummer Carlos Figueroa a particular standout on “Bugle Call Rag” (played so marvelously in the ’60s by the peerless Buddy Rich) and “Sing, Sing, Sing” (introduced in the ’30s by another giant, Gene Krupa). Others who create a favorable impression include Saenz, Harper (featured on “Makin’ Bacon”), trumpeter Curtis Pelster (ditto on ”Li’l Darlin’”), leader / trombonist Chris Acker, tenor Darren Pettit, altos Tom Hartig and Ken Janak, baritone Dave Polson and pianist Dan Cerveny. Polson, Pettit, Janak, Harper, Hartig, Saenz and Cerveny all solo on the scurrying “‘A’ Train.” Before closing, a few words must be written about the album’s 63:42 playing time, which is somewhat misleading — the timing for the final track, “In the Mood,” is given as 13:03, whereas the song itself plays for only 3:07. After more than five minutes of silence (at the 8:22 mark) someone (unidentified) enters playing “Sentimental Journey” (and we use the word “playing” in the loosest possible sense) on an out–of–tune horn of some sort (tenor sax?), followed by a monologue that sounds like a half–baked impression of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Bottom line — subtract about ten minutes from the playing time, which (for the band) is less than fifty–four minutes. An aberration, yes, but one that doesn’t lessen in any way the persuasive impact of the OBB’s splendid inaugural album.

Contact:Chris Acker and the Omaha Big Band, 907 N. 48th St., Omaha, NE 68132 (phone 402–968–6768; e–mail chris@digitalsounddesign.com; web site, www.omahamusic.com/EXTRA

Track Listing: I

Personnel: Chris Acker, trombone, director; Ken Janak, Tom Hartig, alto sax; Stan Harper, Darren Pettit, tenor sax; Dave Polson, baritone sax; Joel Edwards, Curtis Pelster, Charles Saenz, Jon Yates, trumpet; Dr. Noel Johnson, Bill Kearney, trombone; Jay Wise, bass trombone; Dan Cerveny, keyboards; Jeff Scheffler, guitar; Steve Gomez, bass; Carlos Figueroa, drums; Michael Pujado, percussion (

Title: Swing This! | Year Released: 2001


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Flesh & Bone CD/LP/Track Review Flesh & Bone
by Troy Collins
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Generations CD/LP/Track Review Generations
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 22, 2017
Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture" CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "Little Steps" CD/LP/Track Review Little Steps
by Troy Dostert
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake" CD/LP/Track Review Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Love Song" CD/LP/Track Review Love Song
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Grace" CD/LP/Track Review Grace
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "The Behemoth" CD/LP/Track Review The Behemoth
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 11, 2017


Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.