Pops stands for pleasure and this is an entertaining CD. The orchestra's arrangers have provided crowd-pleasing charts of swing favorites from "String of Pearls" to "Sweet Georgia Brown." The soloists are exciting. These include guest artists Antonio Hart on alto, long associated with Roy Hargrove, and the much-in-demand studio trombonist Jim Pugh, a veteran of the Herman Herd. as well as some excellent Cincinnati players. Two arrangements were contributed by former associates of Doc Severinsen, Jeff Tyzik and Tommy Newsom. Tyzik's "It Don't Mean a Thing " features Pugh and reedman Rick Van Matre. On the wonderful Arlen/Mercer song "Blues in the Night" Newsom's score makes full use of the orchestra. He is particularly effective with strings as he has shown before in other settings.
A change of pace is provided by the special guests. Four numbers showcase The Manhattan Transfer as they celebrate 30 years of their smooth-as-silk blending. Among them are a laid-back "Sugar" and a creative vocalese treatment of Django's "Nuages." Janis Siegel's rich voice takes us back to WWII with 'I'll Be Seeing You" in her solo turn. John Pizzarelli, master of rhythm guitar and intimate vocals, brings us Nat Cole's "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and a swinging Don Sebesky version of 'Avalon." Pops pianist Julie Spangler shines on "Avalon" as she also did with her innovative soloing on "Blues in the Night."(I understand that she also sings and arranges. Quite a talent!)
Pop that Champagne! Enjoy!