The Houdini's

Play the Big Five

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The Houdini's are a European sextet who usually play their own originals. For this frequently tongue-in-cheek effort, the musicians explore music by composers whom they call "the Big Five": Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern. Although the melodies always appear somewhere along the way, some of the renditions are rather riotous and even a bit satirical, particularly the version of "My Romance," which has some very forceful tenor playing from Barend Middelhoff. Unusual tempos and rhythms are given to some of these songs (ballads sometimes become romps and vice versa), but one gets the impression that these musicians could be quite effective if they played it straighter. Trumpeter Angelo Verpiogen is particularly impressive, sometimes hinting at Miles Davis but in his own melancholy style. This set is worth investigating, although it falls short of being the Houdini's' most essential work.

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