The third album by the Northern California-based Straight Ahead Big Band features more well-played swing/dance music with some jazz thrown in and eight earnest vocals by Nancy Fischer.
The eleven instrumentals are wide-ranging, from Dixie ("South Rampart Street Parade") to a cha-cha ("Cherry Pink") and waltz ("Jean"), ballad ("Trumpet Nocturne") to Basie ("Two O'Clock Jump") and even a sprinkling of Woody Herman ("Things Ain't What They Used to Be") and Stan Kenton ("Reuben's Blues"). Nancy Fischer is heard on familiar standards by the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Harold Arlen, Victor Young and Don Raye/Gene DePaul, as well as Jobim's "The Girl from Ipanema."
The ensemble, most (or perhaps all) of whose members are part-timers, gives a good account of itself, and there are brief but respectable improvs by trumpeters Dick Morris (featured on the Lennie Niehaus composition, "Trumpet Nocturne"), Bob Sage and Carlo Fazio, altos Steve Fischer and Lou Polcari, trombonists John Schlenz and Bruce Gerard, tenor Mitch Hawley (soprano on "Reuben's Blues"), pianist Bob Hansen and bassist Tom Andrews.
The Straight Ahead Band has a lot of fun. Rather than aiming to be another Basie, Herman or Kenton unit, it's the sort of band one would hire for a dance at the local country club, VFW hall or high school gymnasiumwhich is perhaps the whole idea. Hopefully, albums such as this will help the ensemble land some of those "lucrative" gigs.
God Bless the U.S.A.; South Rampart Street Parade; When I Fall in Love; Over the Rainbow; Cherry Pink; Jean; The Girl from Ipanema; Summertime; Let's Do It; Trumpet Nocturne; All of Me; I Can't Stop Loving You; Things Ain't What They Used to Be; Teach Me Tonight; A Foggy Day; Kansas City; Reuben's Blues; My Funny Valentine; Two O'Clock Jump (73:10).
Bob Sage, Dick Morris, George Goehner, Carlo Fazio, trumpet; Steve Fischer, Lou Polcari, alto sax; Mitch Hawley, Craig Williams, tenor sax; Deanna Wiseman, Liz King, baritone sax; John Schlenz, Bruce Gerard, Ron Largent, Bill Corum, Todd Wright, trombone; Bob Hansen, piano; Luke Temple, guitar; Tom Andrews, bass; Dave Barnett, drums; Nancy Fischer, vocals.
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