Joe Battaglia and the New York Big Band

Close Your Eyes: A Tribute to Harry James and Ray Anthony

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AllMusic Review by

Joe Battaglia continues to keep the flame of big-band music alive from its heyday with this release by his very big New York Big Band. Given that Battaglia is a trumpet player of considerable prowess, it is not unnatural that this album honor two horn men of some repute, the inimitable Harry James and the still-working Ray Anthony. Anthony, who patterned his arrangements and delivery after Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey, with whom he spent more than ten years, is represented on the album by such sweet, lightly swinging tunes as "I Know Why" and a lovely rendition of "Time After Time" (with a fine vocal by Tony Babino). Battaglia's James-like trumpet solos are on several cuts, but he doesn't claim all the upfront time. Trombonist Danny Repole gets some time center stage on "Misty." One of James' biggest hits from 1942, "I've Heard That Song Before," is represented with vocalist Susan Turner playing the role of Helen Forrest. It's interesting that Battaglia chose to ignore many of James' big hits. There's no "Cherry," "Ciribiribin," or "Sleepy Lagoon." Most arrangements fall into the slow or medium tempo category, with only a couple of "killer-dillers" (e.g., "Cabaret") showing a gentler side of both Battaglia's trumpet and his 17-piece band. There are a couple of songs not especially associated with either James or Anthony. More than with any musical aggregation, good arrangements are absolutely crucial to big bands. The appealing charts on this album have been prepared by the likes of Lou Martin, Dave Wolpe, and John Keating. This is a fine album paying tribute without simply imitating. Recommended.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:02
2 2:46
3 3:05
4 3:29
5 1:59
6 2:40
7 2:22
8 3:37
9 2:25
10 2:21
11 3:36
12 2:46
13 3:24
14 2:04
blue highlight denotes track pick