The swing dance revival appears to be on the wane, which isn't all bad. The main beneficiaries were dance teachers ( some even claiming to be therapists), wardrobe suppliers and a bunch of zoot-suited retro bands with little appreciation for the rich swing tradition. Quality small band swing music, such as provided by the John Sheridan Dream Band will live on, while fads come and go.
Sheridan is a sparkling pianist and a talented arranger. His piano influences are Teddy Wilson and Jess Stacy. In almost a quarter century with San Antonio's Jim Cullum Jazz Band he has written over 1000 arrangements.The Dream Band has three albums out on Arbors. Since the octet's last release, "Dream Band Make Me Dream Some More,"there have been two personnel changes. Trombonist Dan Barrett and drummer Jeff Hamilton had other commitments. They have been capably replaced by Russ Phillips and Ed Metz Jr. Phillips' versatility extends from classics to big band, rock and Dixie while Metz is a much sought after percussionist who recently appeared on Arbors' "Head to Head."
This is not a "little big band"playing big band chestnuts. It is a reincarnation of the small groups of the thirties and forties. Scott Yanow's notes describe the repertoire as " standards and superior obscurities."(He's right, but unfortunately I am of an age when many of the obscure are familiar!)
The album combines tight ensemble passages, strong soloists and, at times, a dixieland flavor. Most of the content is made up of jump and swing tunes. Check out Brian Ogilvie's big tenor sound on "Stop, Look and Listen" and Randy Reinhart's hot cornet on 'All the Cats Join In." On the ballad side, "Indian Summer" is a showcase for Ron Hockett and his warm clarinet tones. Sheridan serves up some interesting stride on his intro to "Mood for Love" while Becky Kilgore is enchanting on my favorite obscurity, "Humpty Dumpty Heart." As I said in my review of "Being a Bear: Jazz For the Whole Family" she is a straight ahead singer who knows where the notes are." Kilgore appears on eight tracks and is one of this album's many assets.
No exaggeration. No caricatures. Just good solid swing. Enjoy!