Calvin Owens has been leading big bands for decades, touring in support of B.B. King until forming his own group in the mid-'80s. But the trumpeter's music draws from a number of styles. Owens shines with his heartfelt trumpet in "Mistreat a Good Man." "I Gotcha Hootchie Mama," a vocal feature for Gloria Edwards (which she co-wrote with arranger Nelson Mills), has a Cajun flavor with the presence of accordion player Robert Ludd, Jr. Trombonist Aubrey Tucker wrote and arranged the loping "So Blue and All Alone," a bluesy ballad with fine solos by the composer and the bandleader. The band shows off its gospel roots with a spirited take of "This Little Light of Mine," with an understated vocal by Owens, who is backed by a group of enthusiastic backup singers and Kyle Turner's fiery sermon on tenor sax. They also have a bit of fun with standards, with a boisterous party-like atmosphere in a swinging treatment of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," though their treatment of "Lover Man" suffers from an overblown introduction. It is safe to say that anyone catching Calvin Owens & His Blues Orchestra will not remain seated for long.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden