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Meets Manhattan Swing In a Basie Mood by Donnie O'Brien

It has always been my opinion that Clark Terry’s 1957 album Duke With a Difference was the greatest "tribute" recording ever made. That old Riverside LP still rests on my shelves in spite of several offers from other collectors who would love to have it.

While nobody will ever change my mind about Clark Terry’s masterpiece, drummer Donnie O’Brien and Manhattan Swing are certainly knocking loudly on the door. In a Basie Mood is one of the most delightful swing records to release in recent memory. Donnie O’Brien is a self-taught drummer who has been active on the New York scene since the early 70s. Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Jo Jones and Big Sid Catlett were early influences but "hands-on" training came from Mel Lewis. The young drummer had a chance to meet and jam with Bucky Pizzarelli about 30 years ago. Pizzarelli called the teenager onstage at a club and encouraged him to drum on a phonebook and chairs, much to the delight of the audience. O’Brien recreates that moment on this CD, joining the guitarist on Bye Bye Blues.

Manhattan Swing is a remarkable coupling of Pizzarelli, pianist John Bunch and bassist Jay Leonhart. Add tenor man Carmen Leggio as a special guest and the result is one of the most relaxed and swinging jazz sessions you’ll ever hear. They romp their way through nine Basie standards. Guitarist John Pizzarelli joins his dad on the group’s great rendition of Lester Leaps In. Carmen Leggio soars above a dream rhythm section. If a bomb were to drop on the sound stage, these veterans wouldn’t drop a beat.

At, we don’t award stars. However, my CD shelves have a section for 5 star albums. Guess where this will be filed!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Donnie O'Brien
  • CD Title: Meets Manhattan Swing In a Basie Mood
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Arbors Jazz
  • Tracks: One O’Clock Jump; Blue and Sentimental; I Never Knew; Robbins Nest; Lester Leaps In; Body and Soul; Moten Swing; Jive at Five; Bye Bye Blues.
  • Musicians: Donnie O’Brien (leader, drums); Carmen Leggio (tenor sax); Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar); John Bunch (piano); Jay Leonhart (bass); John Pizzarelli (guitar on Lester Leaps In).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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