A sequel to his 1997 release With a Lot of Help From My Friends, this newest session has more of trumpet player George Graham's buddies showing up in the studio working with him on a smashing hour's worth of big-band music with a modern bent. Graham has been active as both a lead and jazz trumpet player in Los Angeles for more than 20 years, having been on the bandstand with a number of studio and well-known groups such as Si Zentner's band. The Bob Florence and Tom Kubis arrangements are the main reason for the band's contemporary sound. Typical is the fresh Florence chart for "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," where Graham's trumpet takes on an unembellished, mournful sound. Delicate swinging characterizes Kubis' orchestration of "Kinda 2 Kinda 3" as Graham's trumpet and Bob McChesney's trombone share the spotlight. Matters heat up considerably on an accurately dubbed "Scraping the Top of the Barrel" as the band's front line, populated by veteran studio musicians, support Graham's trumpet, this time ambling in higher register trumpet territory. Graham reveals his gentle side as he delivers a fervent rendition of "But Beautiful," with Florence's trilling piano in support. The band takes on a concert tone here, which is easy to do with 17 members in the group. A break from the modern stance comes with a New Orleans romp of "I've Found a New Baby." Here and throughout the proceedings, drummer Gregg Field leads the rhythmic charge with a tasteful but active swinging style. Graham's full, melodic, and relatively straightforward approach to playing the horn allows him to be at ease in all genres and in any tempo. This is an album of well-conceived charts played by big-band experts, and is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan