Ken Nordine

Concert in the Sky

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The cover graphic of a sun shining through the clouds to produce "God rays" is wholly fitting for Concert in the Sky, though it's also a bit misleading; not strictly religious in nature, this album nonetheless tries to envision a concert in heaven that features a number of favorite swing musicians who had already passed on. Teddy Phillips and collaborators Ted Simms, Ben Trace and Al Trace thought up a program for such a concert, and the resulting 14 short songs are performed in the style of musicians such as Bunny Berigan, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Fats Waller and more. It all rides the edge of schmaltz, and the only thing that keeps it from falling over is the fact that it's so obviously heartfelt. In the 21st century, there should be no illusion that this has any deep impact apart from the fact that it featured narration by popular voice-over man Ken Nordine, who was simultaneously launching his solo recording career with the Word Jazz series of recordings. Collectors and hipsters be forewarned, however: Nordine's participation in this project is limited to the initial track setting up the concept, followed by the introduction of each of the members of this celestial recital with a rhyming couplet or two. It's a pleasant enough listen in the end, especially for those with a love of kitsch, but for the serious fans of either swing music or Nordine, it's little more than a curiosity.