"How lucky we are to have such really great bands
invited to the Glenn Miller Festival each year. The past
couple of years, in particular, we've had some outstanding aggregations.
In some cases those bands had CDs so that we can keep on enjoying their
performances after the Festival.
Unfortunately quite often those CDs are a disappointment, not really sounding
like the live performance that was so exciting to us as listeners and dancers.
One reason for this is some bands really aren't that good to begin with
but can put just enough razzle-dazzle on stage to distract the audience
from a rather mediocre performance.
But sometimes even good bands just don't sound as we remember them. While
listening to a CD in the car driving down the freeway or interstate, something
seems different. Often this is caused by the recording engineer's choice
and placement of the equipment. Often it is a result of bad mixing. getting
the right balance is all important in reproducing the same sound or blend
that the bandleader has so carefully honed in the months and years of working
with his musicians.
For my reviews I've chosen CDs by the featured bands of the Saturday night
dance for the 2002 and 2003 Glenn Miller Festivals. This review addresses
the CD by the Classic Big Band.
The Classic Big Band and the Nostalgics Quartet
had that honor for 2002 and they released their first CD the same year.
This band under the direction of Dan Odegaard is
one of the best bands on recreating the great Glenn Miller arrangements.
Add to that the vocal abilities of the Nostalgics Quartet and you have top
Their CD entitled "The Classic Big Band and The Nostalgics
Sing It and Swing It" is a nice mix of modern instrumental arrangements (three of those) and classics
from various Big Bands, as well as a couple of modern vocal arrangements.
Happily the rest of the CD is filled with those great Miller arrangements
that we all love.
"Jukebox Saturday Night"
is the first of those, with the Nostalgics showing what they can do and
that's plenty. No... they don't sound like the Modernaires. They are, after
all, two men and two women as opposed to the Mods four male voices.
Reeves Cary, who as part of the Nostalgics
blends his voice with his comrads so beautifully, solos in a couple of Frank
Sinatra standards. Fortunately, Reeves does it "his way" and both
his rendition and the accompanying arrangements are strictly original. "I've
Got You Under My Skin" is a Chet Howard arrangement and the
performance is tops.
The Nostalgics are featured again on "Perfida"
followed by an absolutely gorgeous rendition of the Miller instrumental
"Sleepy Lagoon" that one would be hard
pressed to tell from the original.
A surprise is the seldom-heard Miller arrangement
of "Just A Little Bit South of North Carolina,"
expertly belted by the Nostalgics' member, Judy Olson.
"Dipper Mouth Blues" follows but is not
performed with the same energy that we are used to from Glenn's original
transcriptions. "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square"
is another beautiful performance with Reeves Cary showing
that he is the equal of all the boy singers of the past. Be sure to listen
to the fine sax solo by Bill Kotrba.
With seventeen tracks, this CD has a good balance of new and old, hot and
pretty, and samplings of several great bands. Although not perfect, it is
a CD that you will be able to listen to many times over and hear something
new each time."