If you like your big band bold and brassy, then consider Calvin Owens’ "Keeping the Big Band Blues Alive." This is a terrific, upbeat, gorgeously performed recording that will certainly roll away your blues. It’ll force you to wipe your eyes, arise from that well-worn sofa, switch off that damned television, force you stand up and sway to its rhythms. Listen, move and rejoice!
Who cares about the neighbors wondering where that music is coming from. This music is not wallpaper ambient mood music. It should not be played at a timid volume. This music should be played loud with the windows open on that otherwise sultry summer Saturday evening. There is life and soul in its soaring trumpet, its smokey vocals, its snakey guitar, its sensuous saxophones. This album should give you that swift kick in the butt, that nudge into your ribs, that caress of your hair to swing, sway, laugh and live.
‘Hucklebuck’ is the way to begin an album. It makes you want to start slinking and slipping. The blues don’t get any thicker than on ‘Mistreat a Good Man’ with an incredible joyful ending with those women singing to the skies. ‘If the Blues Come Roun’ puts that smile on your face and those cares are thrown out the window. Creole funk ‘H-Town’ gets you on that dance floor and makes you shake. Even ‘Lover Man,’ that sorrowful ode, sounds hopeful. It gets way, way over the top with a drunken ‘Santa Claus.’ ‘This Little Light of Mine’ might be best played at dawn after a long night and may even usher one into that church on Sunday morn.
Calvin Owens and his band really know how to put on a fabulous show.