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Frankie Condon’s seventeen–piece orchestra is a first–class dance / swing ensemble with an occasional snippet of Jazz sprinkled in for extra seasoning. Its purpose, he says, is to perpetuate the big–band sound and “ensure that we keep this exciting music, which began in the big band era, alive.” Condon, who hails from our nation’s capital and still lives in the area, led his first band in 1946 and continued doing so until 1960 when economic conditions forced him to disband. The present ensemble, formed in 1969, performs throughout the D.C. area playing charts by such well–known arrangers as Stan Kenton, Glenn Miller, Boyd Raeburn, Sammy Nestico, Bill Potts and others. Most of the arrangements (seven apiece) on ’Til Next Time are by Dave Wolpe or Mike Crotty, the orchestra’s reed section leader and longtime chief arranger for the U.S. Air Force’s premier Jazz ensemble, the Airmen of Note. Mike Kamuf, who holds down a trumpet chair with the Airmen, arranged ‘’Cara Mia,” and the band’s theme was written and arranged by Condon’s friend Ralph Strieby, to whom the album is dedicated. Crotty (“I Can’t Get Started,” “Cara Mia,” “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”) is one of the orchestra’s sturdier soloists, with trumpet / flugel Marc Weigel, trombonist Lowell “Red” Arwood, tenor Bill Hill and pianist Mark Cook also making brief but productive appearances. Arwood is featured on “The Shadow of Your Smile,” Weigel on “You and the Night and the Music.” Vocalist Barbara Strang, who has been with the ensemble since 1983, is heard on half a dozen numbers, singing in a clear, easy style that meshes well with the orchestra’s even–tempered point of view. This is, as Condon expresses it, “music for dancing and listening,” and one could find ample pleasure in doing either with Condon’s well–tuned orchestra there to quicken the impulse.
Contact:The Frankie Condon Orchestra, 301–774–3340 or 301–439–4019.
Track Listing: You and the Night and the Music; The Lady in Red; Ain
Personnel: Frankie Condon, leader; Mike Crotty, alto, soprano sax, clarinet, flute, percussion, arranger; Jack Sharretts, alto sax, clarinet; Bill Hill, Bill Comstock, tenor sax, clarinet; Al Caldwell, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Jack Garner, Marc Weigel, Ronnie Veira, Sid Levy, trumpet, flugelhorn; Lowell
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.