Marty Paich seemed to be more at ease in small combo settings. Most of his albums as a leader were made with a quartet or trio. However, he did make some recordings with larger bands, especially two for the Discovery label. Moanin' is the last of the two, and has some of the finest jazz and studio personnel on the West Coast occupying the band's chairs. Many of them, like Paich, are graduates of various Stan Kenton aggregations. But Paich seems to rebel against the big, blaring arrangements of Kenton, substituting laid-back, cameo arrangements. Instead of the band as a whole, the spotlight is put on individual sections or individual players who take off from the melody line, such as on "Younger Than Springtime," where Bill Perkins is given the lead. Other fine solos are by Art Pepper, especially on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," Conte Candoli, Vic Feldman, and Bob Envoldsen. Paich would allow virtually each member of a section to solo on the same piece, one following the other, as on "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." This is one of the few tracks, along with a Brazilian beat "Love for Sale," where the band rears back as a whole and plays its head off. Paich seemed to reserve that kind of looseness for when he backed the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O'Day, and especially Mel Tormé, frequently using his Dektette, a ten-man band. His ability to create charts that seemed just right for singers made him a valuable commodity among the vocal fraternity and sorority. His charts on this album are just as creative and just as easy to listen to when played by this grouping of the cream of jazz players. Recommended.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan