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Reasons To Be Thankful by Art Lillard's Heavenly Band

Here’s a nice presentation by Art Lillard’s big band from New York City. Lillard’s classy congregation retains the spirit of the swing era but avoids repeating all the time-worn standards. Instead, the Heavenly Big Band offers more than a dozen novel pieces penned by Art Lillard and other band members.

Lillard’s orchestra, in big band tradition, varies the styles from blues, to swing and Latin rhythms. Loaded with good soloists, the group is always exciting in its approach. Lillard’s unusual arrangement of his own "Nonchalant" calls upon a section of four flutes, a fine soprano solo by Kyle Whelan and a classy vocal by Mary Foster Conklin. Conklin’s CD, You’d Be Paradise impressed this writer a couple of years ago. "You Can’t Win The Blues" calls out all the big guns with a sassy boppish vocal by Miles Griffith, guitar by Mark McCarron, alto by Bob Mover, Mike Longo’s piano and a drum break by the leader. It’s a great track.

Latin rhythms rule on "Dreamscape/Perfect Word" featuring a nice Cleve Douglass vocal, and a pretty flute solo by the late Mauricio Smith. Arturo O’Farrill is pianist for this and several other numbers. Trumpeter, Erik Jekabson delivers an impressive passage here and on Lillard & Leder’s "Ingognito." The session’s title song is reminiscent of the gentle melodies often used as closing themes in the heyday of Goodman, the Dorsey’s and all the other fondly remembered bands.

Sound samples of all tracks are available at Amazon.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Art Lillard's Heavenly Band
  • CD Title: Reasons To Be Thankful
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Summit Records
  • Tracks: Bluez Organ Man, The Fast Track, Swingin’ The Blues Away, Justice Waiting, Conclusion Jump, Heavenly, Nonchalant, Incognito, Biznes Changes, Finding Our Own Way, You Can’t Win Blues, Dreamscape/Perfect World, Reasons To Be Thankful
  • Musicians: Art Lillard (drums, leader), Jan Leder, Jeff Schiller, Mauricio Smith, Jay Collins (flutes), Kyle Whelan (soprano sax), Bob Mover, David Valdez (alto sax), David Peterson (tenor sax), Michael Boschen, Phil Arnold (trombones), Justin Mullens, Erik Jekabson (trumpets), Mark McCarron (guitar), Mike Longo (piano on 2-4, 10,11,13), Arturo O’Farrill (piano on 1,5,6,8,12), Sean Smith (bass on 1-5, 7,10,11), George Mitchell (bass on 6,8,9,12,13), Mary Foster Conklin, Cleve Douglass, Miles Griffith, Brook Lillard (vocals)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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