The Sauter-Finegan Orchestra

Straight Down the Middle

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The Sauter-Finegan Orchestra had a good run down the middle of the '50s with its erudite, light-footed expansion of the big band palette, yet by the time this album (their ninth) had been released, George Russell and Gil Evans had eclipsed the SF band in the vanguard of this brand of jazz. Yet the brightly recorded charts heard here are a testament to how consistently imaginative Eddie Sauter and Bill Finegan were to the end, deftly utilizing their trademark seasonings of xylophone and harp and powered by the potent drumming of Don Lamond. Today, this music might be crowded into the '50s lounge category - the humor in the massed kazoo-like voicings on "Sunshine Girl" and antic swing era flashbacks of "Scotch And Sauter" reinforce the point. Yet in contrast to the band's beginnings, there is room for jazz soloing here. Not long after this record was made, the band broke up when Sauter left to become music director of the S├╝dwestfunk in Baden-Baden, Germany - and a cult was born.