I recognized the names, Henry Mancini and Charlie "Bird" Parker. I figured that because this band was a jazz oriented unit that they took those two well known names and put them together to come up with a unique name for their group. Well, they are someone’s names, just not the ones I thought. They happen to be a combination of four Boston area music veterans from the groups The Sky Blues, Bangalore, The Roys and Four Piece Suit. And the names Billy Carl Mancini, who is a vocalist and guitar player, and Ruby Bird, a vocalist and keyboard player, are the musicians the group is named after. I must say, it’s an interesting and thought provoking coincidence.
I would have to consider this group to be progressive in every sense of the word. They combine rudiments of jazz, blues, honky-tonk, rock, world, and just about every sub genre that jazz has ever inspired. What makes the music that much more appealing is how they switch back and forth on tracks from Mancini to Bird for the lead vocal duties. Bird is more attuned to the blues injected numbers, while Mancini is more suited to the jazz and honky-tonk ambiance. They both have equally strong and emotive vocal tones and play their instruments with as much fervor and professionalism as humanly possible. You can’t create music like this without a technically resilient and proficient backbone, and the fabulous rhythm section of Sven Larson (stand up bass) and David Roy Kulik (drums) provide just that. The musical circle is complete, and it is always evident while you are listening.
Was I totally impressed by this CD? Oh yes, completely and indisputably. It’s so refreshing to hear such a great variety on every single track, and with such consistency and quality. With 13 tracks and nearly 60 minutes of music, that’s a milestone in terms of recording by anyone’s measure. There wasn’t a song I couldn’t find enjoyment or value in. That makes my job easy reviewing; I don’t find it necessary to single out certain tracks. The entire recording was so excellent it virtually eliminated that factor, and it usually is an important aspect of a review.
This is music for those listeners that enjoy jazz as a foundation with everything remaining open for structure and influences changing quickly within each song. That for me defines the word progressive.