Instead of merely rehashing songs that were popular during America’s Golden Age of big bands (mainly the ’30s and ’40s), the Studio “A” Big Band salutes its renowned forerunners by performing (mostly) new compositions by Don Sebesky, Howard Rowe, Dominick Spera, Lennie Niehaus and others “in the style of” those celebrated ensembles and others of more recent vintage. Rowe’s “Bugle Boogie Blues” nods toward Harry James, Sebesky’s “Slowly & Quietly Please,” Paul Clark’s “Down Time” and Niehaus’s “Steppin’ Out!” recall Basie, Larry Neeck’s “Uptown Stomp” pays homage to Goodman, Spera’s “Stan the Man!” recognizes Kenton, and so on. Some of the other songs were actually played by the bands in question, most notably Glenn Miller’s theme song, “In the Mood,” and Sy Oliver’s Dorsey–band hit, “Yes Indeed!” Also in that category, although not as well known, are “Gospel John” (Maynard Ferguson), “TD’s Boogie Woogie” (Dorsey), “Big Mama Cass” (Buddy Rich), “Brush Strokes” and “In Roy’s Corner” (both Louie Bellson). Other maestros represented include Woody Herman (Rowe’s “Metropole”), Doc Severinsen (Sebesky’s “Brass Roots”), Duke Ellington (Spera’s “Duke It Out!”) and even Clark Terry, who is far better known as a sideman than bandleader (Rowe’s “Wah, Wah!”). The Studio “A” Big Band, directed by Ed Petersen, is composed of top–notch professional musicians from the Washington, D.C., area including members (or ex–members) of various service bands. Complete personnel are unlisted, although the names of soloists are provided in the liner notes. They include trumpeters Chris Walker and Bill Moore; saxophonists Scott Silbert, Ron Diehl and John Hayward; trombonists Harvey Coonin, Matt Niess and Jon Youngdahl; pianists John Fluck and Ron Chiles; bass trombonist Lee Gause, bassist Randy Mattson, drummer Clyde Connor, pianists John Fluck and Ron Chiles, guitarist John Wingo and vocalist Yolanda Pelzer (“Yes Indeed!”). Despite the album’s “tribute” label, there isn’t much nostalgia here; the charts are contemporary, and few of them come conspicuously close to mirroring the sound or character of its dedicatee. This may not set well with some hidebound big–band devotees; on the other hand, it may be welcomed by others who aren’t waiting breathlessly for another version of “Little Brown Jug,” “A String of Pearls,” “Sophisticated Lady” or “Opus One.”
Track listing: Bugle Boogie Blues; Slowly & Quietly Please; Wah, Wah!; Uptown Stomp; Gospel John; Down Time; Brush Strokes; Stan’s the Man!; Metropole; Brass Roots; In Roy’s Corner; Big Mama Cass; Duke It Out!; Yes Indeed!; TD’s Boogie Woogie; In the Mood (70:40).