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By Request by Mike Barone Big Band

Mike Barone, a trombone king, a big band leader, a composer, an arranger, a dedicated jazz artist, driving his big band to glory. His newest album, By Request -- the fourth installment as the leader of the Mike Barone Big Band -- is nothing less than superb. The band members on this outing are, for the most part, the same sidemen who made up the 2005 Mike Barone Big Band. Keeping a similar line-up for over two years adds great synergy. This tight, cohesive unit, playing to a live audience, swings and cooks through eleven tracks: songs that are apparently By Request. Crowd pleasers? Perhaps. The little known songs are presented and performed with the aim of pleasing the most discerning big band jazz fan. Big band fans and Barone fans will be delighted, as this recording is first rate.

Mike Barone opens the CD with "My Melancholy Baby," a song written by Burnett, Norton and Watson in 1912, a popular love song, perfect for crooners and with this impressive Barone arrangement, just fine as an instrumental version, possibly inspired by the Dorsey Brothers take of the thirties. The soloists, Mike Barone and Ernie Watts put heart and soul into their respective breaks. Barone sings through the trombone, sentimentality is conveyed, but no melancholy mood here, only a happy go lucky feeling in his emotional and upbeat trombone statements.

The majority of the songs on the recording are original Mike Barone compositions; seven of the eleven tunes are original. The originals all have a common theme, they have a bluesy feel to them with nice piano fills that set the mood, the song "Peachy" a short one at just two and half minutes lays down some great piano lines care of John Proulx, the band replies to his blue lines with a melancholy refrain. Bob Summers sounds off with a classy trumpet solo that sneaks in smoothly and sings the blues through about eight bars. Another blues inspired song by Barone is "Elkhart" with a great solo by pianist John Proulx. The other soloists on the selection do a nice job as well, particularly Keith Bishop on alto saxophone who swings smoothly and builds the dynamic. A Barone song that strays from the blues and heads in the pure swing direction is "Mr. Magu" with excellent saxophone soloing by Ernie Watts.

Mike Barone Big Band By Request, is another solid effort, a great production, with good sound quality, well thought out material that works for the band and gets the band working. Barone is very good at arranging the horn sections and his musicians are committed to the songs one hundred and ten percent. The songs are all enjoyable and each song hi-lights a first rate soloist who plays with spirit and passion. The rhythm section never lets up on the energy level, bassist Joel Hamilton and drummer Paul Kreibich, along with John Proulx, when he isn’t soloing, provide a solid base for the band to blow hot and the Mike Barone Big Band is seriously cookin’.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mike Barone Big Band
  • CD Title: By Request
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Rhubarb Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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