There's nothing like a big band with 16 men (in this case, men and women) swinging and armed with great arrangements and soloists to make the heart beat a bit faster and get the foot tappin'. This Texas-based Collection Jazz Orchestra's recording was originally cut for the now defunct Pausa label and was reissued by the Chase Music Group. It synthesizes the styles of many fine big bands which preceded it, including Count Basie's Atomic Band, Stan Kenton's early bands (which turned out such hits as "Eager Beaver"), and the last of Woody Herman's Herds. There's excellent ensemble work throughout, especially on "I Can't Get Started" and "Without a Song." Like any good big band, there are excellent soloists, many of whom are connected in one way or another with the excellent jazz program at North Texas State University. Among the most prominent individual efforts are Larry Panella's tenor on "My One and Only Love," Pete Whitman's tenor on "Passing Fancy," and especially Dave Bandman's Kai Winding-like trombone on "Without a Song." Critical to all kinds of musical aggregations, but especially for a big band, the arrangements here are outstanding and innovative. The band attacks the music, but doesn't overwhelm. Not every piece cooks, as demonstrated by Brian Piper's soft solo on "As Time Goes By," which ends by paying tribute to Dooley Wilson who, in Casablanca, immortalized the tune. "I've Got a Crush on You" is also relatively subdued. Given the Lone Star State's penchant for things bigger and better, one would have thought that there would be more braggadocio in the playing of "A Texas State of Mind," one of the session's two originals. It turns out that this is one of the tamer pieces on the album. The leader of the group, Pete Petersen, manages to keep this orchestra going despite the fact that he pilots for American Airlines. Kudos to him, since this is a very good big band.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan