George W. Carroll

Life Is Good

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There has been much ado about the great swing revival of the 1990s pioneered by such retro swingers as Brian Setzer and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and other groups that have jumped on the bandwagon. In Florida, there has been no swing revival because with the State's large number of senior citizens, swing was always around as a popular musical genre. With local outfits like the Dennis Noday Big Band and now Dan McMillion's Big Band featured on this album, Floridians get the real thing -- no synthetic stuff allowed. With a good balance between ballads and uptempo material, this session recalls those tunes that were staples of the big bands. There are also three originals by George W. Carroll and Kathi Warren. Carroll, who produced the session and founded the label, sings on each track with a deep, husky, masculine voice in the tradition of Sinatra, Torme, and Bennett. McMillion's big band is made up of good professional musicians from the Tampa Bay area. In addition to leading the aggregation, McMillion plays admirable trumpet. His muted horn behind Carroll's vocal on "Someone to Watch Over Me" recalls Harry "Sweets" Edison's backing of Frank Sinatra on some of Old Blue Eyes' albums. There are other fine instrumental solos on this album like Kim Bock's tenor on "Angel Eyes" and Roger Delillo's trombone on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams." A highlight of the album is "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," which owes more to the Bobby Darrin/Billy May arrangement than the celebrated Ray Eberle 1941 recording with Glenn Miller.

Carroll's originals make up the last three tracks with superior bop alto sax player Greg Abate taking the solos with his usual aplomb. Carroll's "Till I Found You" with its bop leanings appears somewhat out of place given the swing orientation of the session. But Carroll's other two compositions swing and get listener attention with their upbeat rhythms. Noted big band leader Frank Mantooth arranged Life Is Good. These tracks certify that Carroll is a composer of note. This album goes a long way in helping to keep the excitement of big band swing before the public and is recommended.

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