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Big-T & the Bada-Bings


Indigo Swing
Red Light

Indigo Swing has a reverential following on the swing scene, and their latest offering, Red Light shows the devotion of their fans is well-deserved. The CD's sound is spare, in the very best sense. The use of silence and space is a sign of maturity and gives breathing room for each note to have greater impact. The airy quality and the simplicity of the album's production also provide an ideal backdrop for bandleader Johnny Boyd's smooth, honest voice, which is simply mesmerizing.

The other musicians are equally on the mark. Baron Shul shows he is at home with both a rough honk or a soupy glide on the sax, and Josh Workman's guitar licks alternately burn and smolder. Big Jim Overton on drums and Vance Ehlers on bass handle the straight swing of most of the tunes every bit as well as the cajun tinge of "They Say I Must Be Crazy" or the tribal rhythms of "Don't Worry So Much." And William Beatty's piano playing is simply killer throughout, from the tireless rolls on the title track to the his inferno of a showcase, "Hot Pot Boogie." All masters of versatility, the members of Indigo Swing have the enviable ability to walk the line between sophistication and silliness, without ever stumbling over it.

The performances alone are enough to justify buying this CD, but what puts this Bay Area-combo head and shoulders above other neo-swing ensembles is the range and strength of the songwriting. From the rocking "Pop's at the Hop" to the country-style ballad "So Far Away from Me," Boyd's most nakedly emotional performance, the lyrics and melodies reflect the talents of master craftsmen.

The pearl on the new album is "Ruby Mae." This delta fable of a trainman adopting a little girl who grows up with a gift for music transports the listener to another place the way very few songs ever can. The stunning lyrics, lazy shuffle, and eerie vocals soaring over the groove like a muted trumpet will coax you in with sweetness then leave you blindsided with content.

With earnestness, polish, humor, danceability, and the occasional flash of greatness, Red Light is a go on all fronts.

- Chris Orbach

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Bim Bam Baby—Who Am I Gonna Love
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George Gee & His Make Believe Ballroom Orchestra—Swingin' Live
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Indigo Swing—Red Light
Jet Set Six—Livin' It Up
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Ray Gelato Giants—The Men From Uncle
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Royal Crown Revue—Walk on Fire
The Yalloppin' Hounds—
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Swing!: The Movie
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The Swing Book—Degen Pener
Musichound's Swing!; The Essential Music Guide




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