Angela DeNiro

Swingin' with Legends

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Recalling memories of those halcyon days when a hard-driving, swinging band featuring a vibrant, vivacious "girl" singer was a major force in popular music, the wife and husband team of Angela DeNiro and Ron Aprea have put together this exciting big band, vocal program. Featuring tight arrangements by Aprea and Frank Foster, a band of monster players with the added bonus of great guest artist solos by Foster, Lionel Hampton, and Lew Tabackin, it's understandable why this album was nominated for a Grammy. There's not a bad cut in sight, making it difficult to single out any for special praise. Lionel Hampton, young at 90, solos on "Midnight Sun" and reprises the solo at the end of the album after his conversation with an admiring DeNiro. Foster's tenor is unmistakable on a very high-powered version of "Avalon," on John Coltrane's "Naima," Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive," and on his composition "Bring on the Raindrops." Tabackin and DeNiro do a Cleo Laine/John Dankworth scatting, solo sax call-and-response on "The Song Is You." Bandmembers get plenty of opportunity to stretch out. There's outstanding ensemble reed work on "Avalon," complementing Foster's solo. The band and DeNiro burned so hot on this one that there was a spontaneous outburst of cheering at the end (which wisely was kept on the CD). Mike Fahn's trombone sparkles on "Travelin' Light" and "A Ballad for Matthew," a celebration of DeNiro's love for her son. Glenn Guidone's tenor is featured on "Will You Still Be Mine," while Derrick Gardner's trumpet dazzles on "Don't Talk About Love." Virtually every song is kicked off by the Butch Miles-influenced drumming of Jim Young. Not all the songs are barnburners: DeNiro shows her tender side on "I'll Close My Eyes" and "Ill Wind." Possessing great range, perfect pitch, and good diction, and backed by a big band chock full of outstanding performers playing scintillating arrangements, this CD is a reminder of how exciting a big band can be.

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