The recording is all the better for the things that is not. Avoiding the brash tone of some big bands, Cooper shoots for smoothness to the overall sound making it far more appealing. Singer Sandra Dudley delivers passionate performances that are remarkably unaffected. Stamm plays with assurance, swing and a tone which, even when he hits the upper registers, remains rich and warm.
Interesting rhythmic ideas abound. "Love for Sale" is delivered in a Latin-tinged cha-cha feel that features John Lux on flute and Mike Krepper on alto. "Twelve", a tune written by Peter Erskine based on the harmonic pattern of Porter’s "Easy to Love", is delivered with an uptempo swing that is a far cry from the more impressionistic take on Peter’s album, Juni. "Two In Love", an original by Cooper based on "I Love You", utilizes a bossa feel with a rich flute section on the intro. Guitarist Kevin Movassagh comps tastefully in support of John Lux’s alto and Tom Clary’s flugelhorn solos.
Alvie Givhan opens "What is This Thing Called Love" with an astute solo that picks up speed as the rhythm section joins in, followed by the flute section and, finally, the horn section. It’s nice to see that, in a program of big band music, the rhythm section members also get a chance to shine, as bassist Sam Shoup and drummer Sexton drive Givhan’s solo to its logical conclusion.But one cannot forget that this is really Cooper’s show. With so many albums out there interpreting the Great American Song Book, one is compelled to wonder why we need yet another. But Big Band Reflections of Cole Porter provides a compelling answer: unique arrangements, a top notch band and fine soloists make this material well worth revisiting.