Team a major arranger (Don Menza) with some of Los Angeles' top musicians and superior straight-ahead material and the result is a memorable big band recording. Many of the selections heard on this live date are based on familiar chord changes, with "Gravy" being better known as "Walkin'," "Faviana" actually being a disguised "Stella by Starlight," and "Time to Leave" being based on "After You've Gone." The arrangements are always swinging and full of surprises, and the many soloists include Menza on tenor (showcased on a rare instrumental version of "Nina Never Knew"), trombonists Bob McChesney and Alex Iles, trumpeter Don Rader, altoist Lanny Morgan on "Hark the Harold," and trumpeter Bobby Shew on "Prelude to a Kiss." Every selection is fun to hear, making one wish that Don Menza would lead many more big band sets in the future. At least one can be grateful for this gem.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow