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All that practice paid off
on January 21, 2012
James Morrison previously has used multi-tracking to display his talents, notably on the "Snappy Doo" album recorded in 1989 in which he played all the parts in a big band (except for guitar, bass, and drums) on two tracks. That album also included several tracks of smaller ensembles made up of multiple Morrisons. It was superb, and I was hoping he'd do something like it again.
Apparently, Morrison got up one morning recently, looked in the mirror, and said, "Let's get the band back together!" He was able to enlist Jeff Hamilton, the drummer from the earlier album, but guitarist Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown had since died. So for this outing, Morrison plays everything you hear except the drums. As if that isn't enough, he also wrote the arrangements for 10 of the 11 tracks. Do you think he has enough creative control of this project?
For big band enthusiasts, this album is even better than the earlier effort because nine tracks feature the big band. (The remaining two tracks include a Dixieland piece and a duet of guitar and bass trumpet.) Great ensemble playing and excellent solos, especially on trumpet and trombone. The renditions are precise but still very expressive, despite having been layered one part at a time. Having done some multi-track recording with multiple instruments, I can say from experience that this isn't easy.
The CD has some good liner notes on the production techniques, the people involved, and the instruments used. Of course, unlike other big band albums, you don't need liner notes to tell you who the soloists are.