While Phil Kelly’s Seattle-based band The Northwest Prevailing Wind is still doing well, during a trip to LA, he decided to get together some A-list musicians to do a straight ahead jazz recording. From this was born The Southwest Santa Ana Winds. With new twists on some favorite standard arrangements and a few originals, this album is just all around fun to listen to.
Beginning with "Jeannine," which was popularized by Cannonball Adderley and often used by Dick Stein on his KPLU show, this track is a swinging, bouncy chart. The trombones lead the show and then the rest of the band joins in with plenty of pops and hits. Great solos by trumpeter Bob Summers, trombonist Andy Martin and tenor player Pete Christlieb.
"Pleading Dim Cap" is a Phil Kelly original showing the versatility of the diminished scale. A funky beat and some aggressive brass lines give the piece a down-and-dirty feel. The balance between the sections is perfect, so the diminished chords come through clearly and brightly.
The title track, "My Museum" changes the feel to a more abstract, mysterious scenario. Vocalist Greta Matassa contributes a haunting melody while accompanied by a string section. The horn backgrounds are somewhat predictable, and make the song sound like something from a Disney movie. But overall, it is a very moving piece.
While "Body and Soul" is usually played as a ballad, this version begins as a fast samba and goes to a straight mid-section played by baritone sax soloist Bill Ramsay. At the end, it briefly turns to ballad tempo before returning to the samba, and finishing up with a cliche bebop tag. The solo is beautifully done with all the different styles and tempos, changing the character of the sound to match the background.
It’s hard to listen to this album and not have a smile on your face by the time it’s done. The music is upbeat and there are plenty of musical gags that you don’t realize until the 4th or 5th time listening to it. Sometimes the sound is a little predictable, but if so, it's a good trend to follow. All the solos are amazing and arrangements are well fitted to the group. We can only hope Phil Kelly continues to work with this group.