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Got Swing? by Dick Cary's Tuesday Night Friends

When he died in 1994, Dick Cary's legacy included over 3000 arrangements for big bands and smaller ensembles and a legendary assemblage of musical pals known as Dick Cary's Tuesday Night Friends. Seven years later, those friends still gather weekly to probe the wonders of Cary's book. Got Swing? is the second collection of performances by the band under the direction of long time member and Cary acolyte Dick Hamilton.

This is an all star band, but not in the super-group sense of an ad-hoc gathering of famous names. These players are the cream of the Hollywood studio scene and veterans of fabled bands and orchestras like those of Louie Bellson, Quincy Jones, Les Brown, Frank Sinatra, Harry James, Ray Conniff, Benny Goodman, George Shearing and more. You may not know all the names, but you've almost certainly heard them on countless movie and TV scores. Among his gifts as an arranger, Cary shared Duke Ellington's famous skill at finding the strongest attributes of the individual players he worked with and writing parts that would accentuate those attributes to the greatest benefit of the ensemble. As a result, the material performed by Dick Cary's Tuesday Night Friends allows these great players to present some of their greatest performances. In this case, the result is the hands-down best contemporary swing recording I've heard since....well, the last one was too long ago to count as contemporary.

The last time out, the Tuesday Night Friends devoted an album to Cary's original compositions. They don't skimp on that score here, with seven fresh tracks highlighting Cary's composing genius, but I'm especially grateful for the arrangements of standard material here, especially for the five Duke Ellington selections. Cary seemed to have a special affinity for the Duke's material and manages to find original twists and touches for the most familiar tunes, while always remaining within the spirit and tradition of the original. Another noteworthy cut is the closing track, Fletcher Henderson's "Down South Camp Meeting." In this case, Cary produced a nearly exact transcription of Henderson's 1934, making only the adjustments needed to adapt Henderson's score for 13 pieces to the needs of the Friends ten pieces. That's a special talent in it's own right, and the result sounds as rich as any 13 musicians could, perhaps as full as most 20 musicians might.

This should be required listening for all the jump blues outfits that call their music swing. It's certainly desired listening for any fan of swing music, or great jazz in general.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dick Cary's Tuesday Night Friends
  • CD Title: Got Swing?
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Arbors
  • Rating: Five Stars
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