Gary Tole and Legends of Swing is dedicated to bringing new life to big band classics from the swing era decades back. Shining up these jazz gems, Tole leads a solid band composed of fine Los Angeles musicians in the new CD One Kettle For Count
The disc is off to a successful start, having garnered three Grammy Award nominations--Best Big Band Album, Best Instrumental Composition and Best Instrumental Arrangements Accompanying Vocalists. Most numbers pay homage to the Basie sound; as well, there are salutes to Goodman, Dorsey and Ellington.
First up, the title tune, composed by Scott Whitfield, begins with Bob Remstein "tickling the ivories" Basie style, leading into the silky smooth sound patented by the Count. Next, on Tole’s "Pick up the Pieces," the band updates the Gene Krupa-Benny Goodman "Sing, Sing, Sing" collaboration-Glenn Morrisettte’s clarinet and Bob Marino’s drums, standing in for the great ones.
These two set the theme. On "That Did It Marie," the first part is played just the way it was on the old Goodman 1941 recording with Peggy Lee, here with Cassie Miller shining on the jivey vocal and Don Shelton's clarinet effectively taking the Goodman solo here. "C Jam Blues" puts a modern touch on Ellington’s composition, while "Moten Swing" brings new life to the old Ernie Wilkins arrangement.
Certainly a highlight is an ingenious mix of Basie and Dorsey on "I’ll Never Smile Again," with the burnished sax section punctuated by Remstein’s piano, leading into Tole’s trombone tribute to Dorsey.
In the vocal department, Miller builds to a delightful climax in Kim Richmond's fast paced, sexy version of "Love For Sale. Not to be outshone, Mike Costley delivers a very hip version of the Beatles’ "With A Little Help From My Friends." The two singers get together for a delightful take on the familiar Ella Fitzgerald-Louis Armstrong duet, "Baby It’s Cold Outside."
In the last track, an outstanding original, Richard Lieb’s "Breathless," showcases Tole’s lush, warm trombone, concluding this most listenable CD with something new to go with the old.