Johnny Varro Arbors ARCD 19418
If you love mainstream jazz served up by today’s best players, you will find the latest Varro quintet offering to be tasty indeed. Here is quiet ensemble swing led by pianist Varro and featuring outstanding, concise solos by cornetist Warren Vache, tenor man Harry Allen, bassist Nicki Parrott and drummer Chuck Riggs. You will recognize most of the songs, including “It Could Happen To You,” “Tangerine” and the title song, but they will all sound new again, thanks to Varro’s finger-snapping arrangements.
Count Basie Orchestra Roulette Records (2004)
The “Fi” had become “Hi” by the Basie band’s 25th anniversary in 1960 and I had the good fortune to stumble into a Campustown record shop in Champaign that fall in search of platters to play on my new Sears Silvertone Hi-Fi. That’s when I discovered the greatest jazz band ever. Roulette had just commissioned Basie tenor man Frank Foster to write down the old “head” arrangements Basie’s bunch had made famous in the 1930s and 40s, and Basie brought his new “Second Testament Band” into the studio to have another go at “Moten Swing,” “Jive at Five,” “Swingin’ the Blues,” and the like. Joe Williams sings on four tracks, Sonny Payne is drumming, Al Grey, Frank Wess and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis are all swinging, and this 2-CD set might well be Bill Basie’s best legacy.
Support Your Public Radio Station
Don has entertained central Illinois radio listeners for nearly 50 years. He helped build the radio powerhouse WJBC and spent most of his career there. During his tenure as program director, WJBC was the highest rated AM radio station in the nation. GLT now claims this radio legend and during his show Radio Munson you'll hear the great swing bands, the hot vintage jazz combos, the Vegas headliners and the veterans of smokey jazz clubs in Chicago, New Orleans and New York--they are all a part of the finger-snapping, toe-tapping stew that is Radio Munson. It’s music presented like radio once was, with stories behind the songs of Basie and Benny, Ella and Lady Day, Django and Satchmo, and today’s keepers-of-the-flame like Diana Krall and Michael Buble. Hear Radio Munson at 7 PM Thursday.