Trombonist Gary Tole leads a swinging big band, but its repertoire doesn't merely consist of the decades-old charts that offer nothing new. Although the music shows the influence of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman, the charts of the familiar songs from each of these band's books are updated for the 21st century, while never forgetting to swing. Drawing from a host of West Coast musicians, including fellow trombonist/arranger Scott Whitfield, pianist Bob Remstein, and multi-reed player Don Shelton, among others, Tole has assembled a band that brings life to each of these imaginative charts and incorporates lively solos. Highlights include a subtle, percolating take of "C-Jam Blues," a cooking miniature of "Flyin' Home," and Whitfield's Basie-like original "One Kettle for Count." But there's more than just typical swing songs. Surprises include an arrangement of the Average White Band's normally annoying "Pick Up the Pieces" (a 1970s hit that started with an interesting riff, then failed to develop it into anything worth hearing) that begins as "Sing! Sing! Sing!" and incorporates a bit of Bob Haggart's "Big Noise from Winnetka" before finally revealing itself in the very last chorus. "American Bandstand Boogie" transforms the famous Saturday afternoon television theme back to the early '40s in swinging fashion. Finally, Kim Richmond reworks "Happy Together" (a huge hit for the pop group the Turtles in the late '60s) into a swinging feature for vocalist Cassie Miller, adding plenty of background riffs in the reed and brass sections. Highly recommended.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden