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Tommy Newsome and his Octo-Pussycats by Tommy Newsome

I have always listened to Tommy Newsome back in the days of the Johnny Carson show. The quiet man with a most powerful band. Every time I saw a new player on that show, playing with Newsome, they became famous. For example, I saw this sax player that had a very unusual way of playing his instrument out of the side of his mouth. This man would become a legend in his own time. It was David Sanborn. Well Mr. Newsome and his new band have put together a wonderful new CD called Tommy Newsome and his Octo-Pussycats. It brings you back to how a big band should sound.

Big bands were, as they used to say, the hip thing in the 40s & 50s. In this era you had Glenn Miller, the Dorsey brothers (Jimmy & Tommy)..what competition!, Artie Shaw and Woody Herman. If you could have seen these guys or have gone to one of their dances, it would be a wonderful evening. Some of the best players of this era came out of the big bands, creating their own style and flavor. Greats like Charlie Parker or Oscar Petiford (bass player) to name a few. This era was a very special time. With the war that was going on, the men overseas could tune their radios to a station and a magic would come back, like they were in their own hometown.

Newsome's band is quiet elegant. The band plays these tunes effortlessly, with superiority, and give great dignity to each of the songs. In the musical industry we call this musical expression by an artist. Did you ever know a tune but could not recognize it because it just did not sound right? Sometimes it just does not work. The Octo-Pussycats make these tunes play the way I always heard them, but with finesse.

As I also note,the bass and drummer are wonderful at keeping this band alive. You can hear the energy and power they create for the band. There is always a rule for playing in a big band. If you cant hear the player on the other side of the stage, you are too loud! Newsome's band has a very keen sense of awareness for this and you hear it in their playing. In a big band you have the rhythm going from bass, drums, piano and guitar. But now there are sub melodies of which I always talk about. The horn section are now another part of the rhythm, creating a very strong but graceful movement. This makes the band flow better. I suggest you buy a big band CD. Perhaps this one would be the best example of perfection at its finest.

The tunes on the CD are mixed very well. A good CD in any grouping, Jazz, Rock, Country etc., should go in order of slow tunes to fast and back again. My favorite tune is track 2, Detour Ahead. A ballad that would melt butter! Sounding very nice and easy,not hurting those ears! The Octo-Pussycats are very complimentary to each other,they are listening together as they play. Blending becomes a major role in the adventure. I play in a big band also, and I have to make sure my sound is good, in time and is not overpowering. This whole CD is chalked full of beautiful solos & has diverse contours of constant rhythm. I had put this on to listen to on a Sunday and it was perfect for the day. It's been a long time coming to again hearing this elegant,wonderful leader/ sax player. Tommy Newsome and his Octo-Pussycats are a big band hit! I give it a 4 out of 5 on my Jazz-o-meter.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Tommy Newsome
  • CD Title: Tommy Newsome and his Octo-Pussycats
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Arbors Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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