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John Burnett Swing Orchestra: West of State Street/East of Harlem

Ken Dryden By

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England native John Burnett has been a part of the Chicago jazz scene for some time. He presently hosts a weekday jazz radio program on WDCB and is also the conductor of his own Swing Orchestra (formed in 1999) which focuses on big band music of the '40s.

Recorded live early last year at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn, Illinois, guest trumpeter Randy Sandke is featured on seven selections and proves to be the most compelling soloist, though the band has a number of fine players who merit wider exposure, among them tenor saxophonist Doug Stone and alto saxophonist Nick Mazarella. The book draws heavily from Count Basie's repertoire, including a swinging treatment of the rarely performed "Flight of the Foo Birds" (you likely have to be over 50 to know the joke behind the song's title), a snappy "One O'Clock Jump" plus the famous chart of "April in Paris" (complete with the famous Thad Jones "Pop Goes the Weasel" quote and multiple reprises of the theme at its conclusion).

They also do justice to "A Night in Tunisia" and "Struttin' With Some Barbecue." The only tiresome gimmick is Tony Pons' pointless attempt to duplicate Louis Armstrong's gravelly vocal to "Hello, Dolly!" Far better are Frieda Lee's two vocal features.


Track Listing: Flight Of The Foo Birds; Groovin

Personnel: John Burnett: leader; Frieda Lee: vocals; John Moran: guitar; Nick Mazarella: alto saxophone; Bob Frankich: alto saxophone; Anthony Bruno: tenor saxophone; Doug Stone: tenor saxophone; Bruce Mack: baritone saxophone; Greg Duncan: trumpet; Terry Connell: trumpet; Mike McGrath: trumpet; Tony Pons: trumpet, vocals; Randy Sandke: trumpet; Bryant Scott: trombone; Adam Gross: trombone; Dana Legg: trombone; Bill Walsh: bass trombone; Mark Burnell: piano; Paul Martin: bass; Bill Byan: drums.

Title: West of State Street/East of Harlem | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Delmark Records

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