Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WEJB's "Sunny Side Up" is HOT!

Monday I received the newest CD from the West End Jazz Band, "Sunny Side Up," and they just keep getting better. Thanks to the brilliance of Mike Bezin's superb arrangements, and the disciplined hot, hard swinging of the band, this CD is tops. Mike has arranged eight Fletcher Henderson classics for the six-piece WEJB, and brings them to vivid life. Those gem-like charts would be worth the price of admission alone, but there is so much more to enjoy here--excellent dance medleys, novelties, star turns for every member of the band, "La Rosita," nods to King Oliver and The Coon-Sanders Nighthawks, and an original interpretation of "I'm Going to Float My Boat Right Back to Terre Haute."

This is the WEJB's first CD for Bryan Wright's excellent Rivermont label, and is beautifully packaged and produced, with delightful graphics by Dennis Scott (who is also the organist on their great "Movie Palace Style" CD).

The musicianship here should be noted as well. Mike's own cornet, with its echoes of Bix and Joe Smith, provides just the right sound for the Henderson pieces and the hot dance selections. Reedman John Otto has just the right alto tone for 1920s music. Add to that the metronomic Leah Bezin on banjo, and the equally stellar Frank Gualtieri on trombone, Mike Albiniak on drums, and Mike Wallbridge on tuba, and you have one of the finest bands working today.

My wife Sue, who is not easily impressed, loved this CD and said that the WEJB sounds so authentic and true to the period that "all they need are the scratches." I concur. All their CDs are worth having, but you've got to buy "Sunny Side Up."

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