Bob Florence has built a reputation as a solid arranger and composer who has amassed quite a discography that extended nearly a half-century by the time this studio recording was made in the spring of 2006. Leading an all-star West Coast-based big band sprinkled with a few guest soloists, the pianist starts things off with his imaginative "Eternal Licks & Grooves," an IAJE-commissioned work saluting Count Basie that utilizes a repeated lick from Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" but not in a traditional swing setting. Claude Debussy's French Impressionist work "Claire de Lune" seems like a brand new composition after Florence applies his master strokes on the charts for his band, transforming it from a quiet ballad to an upbeat cooker. Branislaw Kaper's "Invitation" is a favorite of singers and instrumentalists alike, typically played in a bossa nova setting; Florence's approach is more reserved, gaining steam gradually and providing an excellent solo showcase for tenor saxophonist Jeff Driskill and trumpeter Steve Huffsteter. Finally, "Appearing in Cleveland" serves as a finale, saluting bandleader Stan Kenton and incorporating several of his most famous compositions in aFlorence's imaginative extended suite. Highly recommended! This CD was nominated in 2007 for a Grammy award as Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden