Home » Jazz Articles » Mike Melito: To Swing Is The Thing


Album Review

Mike Melito: To Swing Is The Thing


Sign in to view read count
Mike Melito: To Swing Is The Thing
The leader of any group whose credo is To Swing Is the Thing had best enlist some hired hands whose propensity to swing is sure and steady, regardless of mood or tempo. Veteran drummer Mike Melito's talented quintet runs that course without breaking a sweat, lending Melito all the help he needs to keep his eighth album as leader bright and swinging from start to finish.

Trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart, past masters to whom swinging is second nature, share the front line while Melito, pianist Jeb Patton and bassist Neal Miner make sure the pilot light remains on high. Billy Strayhorn's mournful "Lush Life" is played as a fast-paced flag-waver with powerful solos by Magnarelli, Stewart, Patton and Melito. That is only one of several engaging highlights in this admirable session, as is a heated version of Jerome Kern's normally pensive ballad, "Make Believe," a showcase in waltz time for Patton's nimble piano as the horns sit that one out.

Even when the tempo slows, as on Thelonious Monk's enchanting "Ruby My Dear," the ensemble makes sure the swing quotient stays sharp, thanks in part to inventive solos by Stewart, Magnarelli and Patton, and even more so to deft timekeeping by Melito (on brushes) and Miner. The tempo and the heat rise again on John Coltrane's "Straight Street" and remain there through Stewart's groovy, bop-flavored "Three for Carson" and the harmonious finale, Miner's swift-moving "Locke Bop" (based on one of Irving Berlin's more enchanting themes, "The Best Thing for You").

Melito takes his cue from another avowed swinger, saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, opening with a pair of Turrentine's burners, "You Said It" and "Big Red." The late drummer Johnny Ellis' "A Bee Has Two Brains" hustles briskly onward behind splendid solos by all hands, while Magnarelli's lyrical "Blue Key" may be less gregarious in nature but no less earnest in spirit. Patton, Magnarelli and Stewart fashion impressive solos, as they do whenever called upon. If swing is your thing, make a note to check out Melito's convivial quintet. Not many recent albums swing as freely or as often.

Track Listing

You Said It; Big Red; A Bee Has Two Brains; Blue Key; Lush Life; Make Believe; Ruby My Dear; Straight Street; Three For Carson; Locke Bop.


Mike Melito: drums; Grant Stewart: saxophone, tenor; Joe Magnarelli: trumpet; Jeb Patton: piano; Neal Miner: bass, acoustic.

Album information

Title: To Swing Is The Thing | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Cellar Music Group

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



John La Barbera
Cry Me A River
Hilario Duran
Oblong Aplomb
Matt Mitchell
The Defector
Henry Spencer


Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio
Afro Futuristic Dreams
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids
Pharoah (Box Set)
Pharoah Sanders
Dynamic Maximum Tension
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society

On the record

Vibes on a Breath
Ted Piltzecker
Jonathan Karrant
Brazilian Match
Luiz Millan
Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.