Bill O'Connell Chicago Skyliners Big Band

Contemporary Classics

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AllMusic Review by

Formed in 1988 for the exclusive purpose of keeping the big band flame alive, this is Bill O'Connell's Chicago Skyliners Big Band's fourth album. The big bands that are the objective of this group's attention are those which captivated the country mainly during the 1930s and 1940s. Thus, music is heard on this album associated with Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, and other icons of the big band era. However, the Chicago assembly is no mere copycat band. While the arrangements are sufficiently similar to the originals to allow the listener to connect with the big band that made them famous, at the same time they are different enough to instill freshness in oft-played swing standards. Among the chart-makers who contributed arrangements to this album are Sammy Nestico, Bill Holmon, and Dave Lalama. Moreover, the Skyliner outfit is populated by some of the top ensemble players in Chicago and they get plenty of opportunity to shine in solo choruses. Bill Horn's clarinet on "Sing Sing Sing," the excellent tenor man Frank Catalano on "Mack the Knife," and the trumpet of Terry Connell on "Fly Me to the Moon" are just some fine individual efforts by members of the band. O'Connell has some fun along the way. The famous Basie "one more time" coda to "April in Paris" is changed to "no more time" as the band shuts down in mid-measure. There are also a couple of vocal offerings by Byron Woods. Good arrangements, fine musicians, and a clear sound reproduction make this an attractive album for devotees of that big band swing sound.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:09
2 5:22
3 3:28
4 4:30
5 3:30
6 5:24
7 3:20
8 5:42
9 2:51
10 3:09
11 5:04
12 2:56
13 2:23
14 5:08
15 4:11
16 4:03
blue highlight denotes track pick