The Ben Grisafi Big Band

But Beautiful

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The Long Island-based Ben Grisafi Big Band continues its journey down the road of big band music with this second release. Featuring a play list of 19 tunes, this 18-piece aggregation combines the nostalgia of tunes that made up the books of many of the great bands of the 1940s updated with fresh arrangements by leader Ben Grisafi, as well as including original compositions. Several of the band's chairs are occupied by veterans of groups that made up the big band era, including outfits headed by Harry James, Artie Shaw, and Tommy Dorsey. One of the more attractive qualities of this CD is the balance between the outstanding section playing and individual solo efforts. Of the latter, Grisafi's smooth, sensuous tenor sax takes the solo lead on the title tune, "But Beautiful," and an upbeat "Back Home Again in Indiana," with help from Bil Doar's piano on the latter. Loose and free, but not disorganized, is the way the ensemble playing can best be described, recalling Count Basie's high-voltage outfits of the 1960s and 1970s. On "Tea for Two," the brass and reeds trade choruses as a lead into splendid trumpet solos by Frank Guerrero and Chuck Genduso. Like their earlier release, Denise Richards is the band's girl singer. This time around, her participation increases to four tunes, including a lovely "The More I See You." Al Miller continues to drive the band with his drum set and gets a chance for a lengthy drum break on "Dark Eyes." But Beautiful should bring warmth to the hearts and memories of those whose music of their youth came from the big bands and for those who're as familiar with this very special form of jazz music expression. Recommended.