Cole Porter's music has always had a special appeal to jazz musicians, as somehow his melodies seem to hit the mark as vehicles for creative improvisation. The Jazz Orchestra of the Delta, the brainchild of director Jack Cooper, was formed in 1998 and features some of the best local players from the mid-South region of the United States. For this recording, the 17-piece band performs compositions by Porter (with a couple by Cooper), and the results are swinging, exuberant big-band jazz of the highest quality. The two ubiquitously featured artists, trumpeter Marvin Stamm and vocalist Sandra Dudley, are superb additions, contributing considerably to the overall effects. Stamm has rarely sounded better, and his forceful, tuneful, and exciting solos (which appear to have been recorded separately from the band) are absolutely wondrous. Dudley is just as impressive, and although her voice may not be quite sultry enough for Porter's lyrics, she has an exquisite sound and rhythmic feel that are irresistible. As for the band, it is well-rehearsed and tight, with decent if not memorable solos all around. Cooper's arrangements are hard-hitting and intricate, even if they sometimes lack subtlety, and serve as near-perfect vehicles for Cole Porter's compositions. This album serves as a good introduction to a regional jazz orchestra that belongs in the big leagues.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy