Dick Cary and his Tuesday Night Friends bring together a remarkable composer/arranger with a top-flight 10-piece rehearsal band. Cary's background included the Hartford Symphony (as an eleven-year old violinist), Nick's, Condon's, the Casa Loma, Bobby Hackett and Louis Armstrong orchestras. His instruments? Piano, trumpet and his GI alto horn. The man was a genius with many originals and over 3200 arrangements to his credit. To quote Dick Hamilton, the band's current leader and Cary's collaborator for decades, "The great thing about Cary's output was his ability to write music especially tailored for the musicians he knew so well." Sounds like Duke! It's easy to understand why the cream of Southern California's musicians showed up to play at his home every Tuesday for over 26 years. And why, after his death in 1994, they still do.
You could write a book -a large book - about those who come to play. Let me mention just two, Clarinetist Abe Most has more than 50 years experience playing big band and studio clarinet. He recreated Goodman and Shaw for the well-known Time/Life jazz series. Most solos throughout and the clarinet color is essential to the Cary sound. The inventive bari player, Fred Cooper, was an integral part of the Les Brown band for 30 years. Just catch his eloquent flute work on Duke's "I Didn't Know About You".
There are five Ellington compositions and a Cary tribute to Harry Carney in this set. Cary's arranging genius and his respect for Duke allow him to go where few except repertory orchestras have dared to tread, blending the Cary touch with Ellington flavor. His originals set the band's personality - swinging, loose (in the best sense) and good humored. So what else keeps them together and gives us such pleasure? Whitney Balliet said it best "the sound of surprise." Where else can you play a repertoire that melds creative arrangements of "Down South Camp Meeting," and "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" with Johnny Griffin's boppish "Fifty Six" and my favorite, "Puttin' On the Ritz." I'd love to see Fred Astaire dance to that quirky playful chart! Not easy!
Got swing? Sure do! This CD will make you all want to head for that house in Sunland, CA.next Tuesday.