In the press materials accompanying Uptown Swing, trombonist Jeff Williams describes the Uptown 5 as "a swing quintet playing mainly Basie and Basie influenced music utilizing the enormous and under-used sound of the trombone and tenor saxophone. The description is certainly true, as far as it goes, but it leaves out the palpable sense of joy these musicians communicate while playing the music they love. While the sounds are certainly not cutting edge, the affection evident in the performances brings the material right up to date.
Basie's "Blue and Sentimental, almost the platonic conception of what one would ideally hear when feeling blue and sentimental, is given a lovely reading featuring sensitive contributions by tenor saxophonist Al Nicholls and pianist Hilary Cameron, in addition to some marvelous, old-timey trombone work from Williams. Alongside the selections by Basie and Ellington (including a spirited run through "Battle Royal, the number on which the Basie and Ellington bands met back in 1961) are a number of originals by Nicholls that fit in admirably with the rest of the program. Both "Looking Uptown and "Bebe's Blues are jaunty, catchy compositions that prove to be fine showcases for the band.
Avoiding anything trendy or gimmicky, Uptown Swing features musicians who respect their source music too much to treat it like a museum piece. The album is wonderfully vital and pays fine tribute to the music and musicians that inspired it.
Track Listing: Looking Uptown; Give Me The Simple Life; Battle Royal; Blue And Sentimental; Corner Pocket; Bebe's Blues; Just One Of Those Things; The Spirit Is Willing; Ballad Melody; Hot News; If I Had You; Taste On The Place
Personnel: Jeff Williams-trombone; Al Nicholls-tenor saxophone; Hilary Cameron-piano; John Rees-Jones-bass; Rex Bennett-drums
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
Login to your All About Jazz member account to submit articles and press releases, upload images, edit musician profiles, add events and business listings, communicate with other members via personal messages, submit inqueries or contribute any content.