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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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The SWR BIG BANG
Featuring FOLA DADA

Kings of Swing Op.1

HÄNSSLER CLASSIC
CD 93.310

 

 

Opus One

Why Don’t You Do Right

Marie

Diamonds are a Girls’ Best Friend

At Last

Stealin’ Apples

A Tisket A Tasket

And The Angels Sing

Isfahan

Flight of the Bumblebee

Trumpet Blues

Almost Like Being In Love

Swing That Music

What A Wonderful World

Fola Dada (vocals)/SWR Big Band conducted by Pierre Paquette

Recorded January 2013, SWR U-Musikstudio, Stuttgart [46:04]

 

Here’s a nice, albeit short, set from the powerhouse SWR Big Band. The repertoire is standard swing and many a hat is doffed to Benny, Harry, Fats, Ella, Duke, Louis and the like – though, on reflection, when did anyone ever meet their like? This is the crème de la crème, repertoire-wise, fourteen tracks, with vocals from featured singer Fola Dada on six of them.

Opus one gets a Dorsey cum Goodman workout with some cutting clarinet from Pierre Paquette and whilst Why Don’t You Do Right doesn’t have that sassy Peggy Lee feel, Fola Dada does well by it, preferring a less high-heeled approach – less of the stiletto. Maybe Diamonds are a Girls’ Best Friend is rather odd in context – this disc is no homage to Marilyn, certainly – but it makes a change and the chart is a good one. Glenn Miller voicings are part and parcel of At Last, the Harry Warren vehicle arranged by Bernd Rabe, complete with a fast-toned trumpet solo from Felice Civitareale.

Fola is canny enough not to don the mantle of Ella in A Tisket A Tasket – it would hardly work – thus preserving independence of spirit; nice feel. And she phrases just behind the beat in And the Angels Sing sounding not much like Martha Tilton’s girlish eagerness but with her own graceful take on things. Civitareale takes the Ziggy Elman role. It’s altoist Klaus Graf who assumes the mantle of Johnny Hodges on Isfahan which he does well, though no new ground is either broken or taken. Flight of the Bumblebee is heard in the arrangement by British trombonist Mark Nightingale and, appropriately, it’s a feature for trombonist Marc Godfroid of the SWR – virtuosic and funky, to be sure. Those who love Boogie will enjoy the inevitable Harry James piece Trumpet Blues. There’s a final dual salute to Louis in the shape of Swing That Music where Martijn de Laat sports the trumpet and then, finally, What A Wonderful World which gets a nicely individual arrangement and a good vocal from Dada.

There are in fact a lot of good arrangements throughout from a variety of pens – Bill Holman did Almost Like Being in Love, for instance – and the Stuttgart-based band plays with good corporate strengths throughout. Not too many solos are parcelled out, the strengths remaining ensemble-based. I found - and this is always a good sign – that 46 minutes passed in a flash.

Jonathan Woolf



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