Creatively as well as commercially, the neo-swing movement of the '90s didn't go as far it should have -- too many of the participants (who usually offered a blend of jump blues and early rock & roll) were mediocre and unskilled. And by the end of the decade, the movement had, to a large degree, dried up. But that doesn't mean that neo-swing recordings don't have their place, especially when they're as well done as singer/saxman/guitarist Jay Patten's All in Blue Time. In contrast to all the amateurish neo-swing releases that came out in the '90s, this 2002 release sounds like the work of professionals -- if it wasn't, clarinetist Buddy DeFranco wouldn't be a special guest. One thing that All in Blue Time does have in common with many of those '90s neo-swing efforts is a major sense of irony; Patten (who leads a big band that he bills as the Swing Noir Orchestra) brings an ironic take on '40s/'50s culture to clever items like "Gang of Angels," "Forget About It," and "Flight From South Jersey" (which is about the dangers of alienating the Mafia). But All in Blue Time isn't just an exercise in cuteness and cleverness; the material is more substantial than that. And even though '40s/'50s culture is a strong influence, this session isn't oblivious to post-'50s developments in music. Henry Mancini's writing is an influence, and Patten interprets two '60s hits: "Those Were the Days" and Ruby & the Romantics' "Our Day Will Come." If more of the neo-swing releases that came out in the '90s were as solid as All in Blue Time, perhaps the movement would have been more durable. At any rate, this CD demonstrates that a neo-swing outlook still has possibilities in the 21st century.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson