It isn’t often that you think of Big Band music emanating from Tennessee, the center of everything Country and most gospel vibes. Rory Partin however is not originally from Tennessee. The leader of the Rory Partin Big Band since 2000 is a native of Louisiana.
The 2006 release of The Very Thought Of You provides sensitive readings of Ray Noble’s "The Very Thought of You" and "Let’s Fall in Love" (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler). There is a solid swinging rendition of "Mack The Knife" that is a little smoother than Bobby Darin’s performance. Oh how I wished for a dance partner while this tune resonated off the walls in my home. The musicians are absolutely stunning. The band’s thirteen piece horn section will soon have you swaying to the music.
Terry Waddell’s arrangements for "Route 66" appear well suited for Partin’s vocals and the trio of Cole Burgess (sax), trumpeter Jamie Simmons and Al Javorcky (trombone) really show what they are made of blowing some great notes.
"It Had To Be You" casts Partin in a light closer to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett than Harry Connick Jr. This crooner has everything including being incredibly handsome. He has that dark featured mystique about him which opens hearts to the tender lines from the title track, "The Very Thought Of You." What woman wouldn’t want to believe that he is daydreaming about her? Hate to burst your bubble but Partin is happily married to pop singer Jeni Varnadeau.
This may sound like an oxymoron but the horns sound more subtle than brassy. "The Very Thought of You" as interpreted by the Rory Partin Big Band is the entrée that makes you want to sail around the ballroom floor. Partin’s vocals are the desert that melts in your mouth and prompts you to whisper ‘I love you’ in your partner’s ear.
By the time the crooner gets to "The Way You Look Tonight" you are sighing and dreaming of a life together. If your dance partner is your husband or wife you should be remembering all the reasons you fell and stayed in love.
It is no wonder that the Rory Partin Big Band has become a favorite at such gala events as presidential inaugural balls in Washington D.C. (on six occasions), the Belmont Stakes, and the National Symphony Ball in Washington D.C. The Band has become a favorite of world class hotel ballrooms such as those found at The Ritz Carlton, The Waldorf Astoria and the Opryland Hotel.
Pianist Jeff Lisenby lays down great chops. The rhythm section of Paul Abrams (guitar), bassist Chris Kent and drummer, Scott Weckerly, are spectacular. There isn’t a weak note on this album.
Yes the album is comprised of standards and classic swinging jazz tunes but Partin’s vocals, the band’s magical instrumentals, and Waddell’s arrangements make this a breath taking journey.