Kenny Ball / Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen

Midnight in Moscow [Castle]

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This CD of Midnight in Moscow isn't a reissue of the 1962 Kapp Records 11-song LP of that name but, rather, a 16-track compilation that includes the 1961 hit, but ranges freely up through the second half of the '60s. Forty-four years on, "Midnight in Moscow" is still resplendent in a beguiling panache that set it apart from most of the by-the-numbers trad of the period, and the surrounding standards, including "Rondo" (Mozart given a Dixieland arrangement), are all worthwhile hearing. The best track here may well be the live version of "Saturday Night," the Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne number, which is done as a slow, bluesy ballad, carefully understated right down to the quietly elegant banjo solo. "Someday You'll Be Sorry" is also not only highly enjoyable but instructive, a trad jazz cut that is close enough to skiffle to explain in its playing the relationship between the two musical forms, which isn't always obviously to those coming in late to the story. The later tracks don't always hold up quite so well -- the Beatles included so many trad elements in "When I'm Sixty-Four," that a trad rendition of it just doesn't seem that unusual or special, even if it is well played and performed with a great deal of sympathy for the material; similarly, there are better and more inventive and distinctive jazz-oriented renditions of "Hello Dolly" than the one featured here. Much more successful are "Acapulco 1922" and "Casablanca," and the jazz reinterpretations of Dimitri Tiomkin's "Fifty Five Days at Peking" and "The Green Leaves of Summer."

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