A Cincinnati society band led by trumpeter Jerry Conrad and featuring vocalist Liz Antony, this group offers a fairly predictable blend of swing era to more modern standards, some better than decent arrangements from notables as Al Kiger or Gordon Brisker, and the nonplussed, ersatz singing of the plain voiced Antony, who is on every track. The instrumental prowess of this 13-piece group far exceeds the abilities of Antony, and they are not able to lift her limited range to a higher artistic or inspirational level. At least the charts make things interesting for the musicians, as they use Kiger's talents to the hilt on the classic ballad "'Round Midnight" and the light cha cha of "Lullaby of Birdland," the latter featuring fine solos from flute player Rich Landrum, the great guitarist Kenny Poole and tenor saxophonist Randy Villars. The solos are also substantial on the Sonny Rollins calypso "St. Thomas," where multi-layered horns accent the cutesy, sexy side of Antony, her best profile. In a big band style is Gene Krupa's rockin' "Boogie Blues," while the light breezy samba take on "Old Devil Moon" shows Antony quite relaxed. More corny is the Kurt Weill evergreen "Mack the Knife" with twangy guitar from Bobby Fischer, ultimately maize colored for "Puttin' on the Ritz" where Kiger's better arrangement shines as does pianist Phil DeGreg. Antony is most imperfect singing the classic swinger "Undecided," and lacking emotional pull for the upbeat but flat title cut, and the string infested ballad "Moonlight in Vermont." A challenge or curveball might give Antony grist for her vocal mill, but it's likely she's quite comfortable and safe with this format. Too bad, for she ranks as just another average singer, while this band would do quite well on it's own, and that would be a project worth checking out.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos
feat: Jerry Conrad Orchestra