When bandmembers call themselves the Swingcats, it's reasonable to expect them to swing hard, and when they name an album Get Happy!, it's reasonable for the listener to expect a good time. In both cases, these expectations are met. The rhythmic assembly is made up of leader Frank Roberscheuten, who also handles the saxophones and clarinets, pianist Dirk Van Der Linden, bassist Karel Algoed, and drummer Moritz Gastreich. The Swingcats open with fine versions of "Lullaby of the Leaves" and "Christopher Columbus," both of which are filled with inspired ensemble playing and concise solos. The band waits to reveal its secret weapon, vocalist Shaunette Hildabrand, until the third cut. Hildabrand's agile vocals capture the right mood on fun fare like the title cut, "Undecided," and "Crazy Rhythm." Altering between instrumentals like "Harlem Nocturne" and vocals like "Hallelujah," the Swingcats offer a varied program on Get Happy! that keeps the listener tuned in. The arrangements manage to balance out each instrument, leading to a full sound that never seems busy or crowded. The band also tackles adventurous numbers like Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Be Bop." Fans addicted to swing from Benny Goodman to the Squirrel Nut Zippers will want to pick up a copy.
Get Happy! Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.