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Big-T & the Bada-Bings


City Rhythm
Strikes Again

The newest City Rhythm release began with the band’s cutting only a handful of tracks, but soon flowered into a full-fledged album teeming with swinging rhythms, sophisticated arrangements, and polished sound. The band’s output is commendable—for only nine members, they manage to fill any room with an evenbigger sound, and there’s some amazing solo work by pianist Michael Frank (an Ellingtonian wunderkind) and clarinet player Pete Spina.


Hear Samples of
Strikes Again

Dig That Crazy Chick
Jubilee Stomp
Hit The Road Jack
Ba-Ba-Re Bop

(Requires Windows Media)

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The album’s instrumental numbers are wonderful examples of good arranging (thanks to veteran Joe Matt) and fun, upbeat rhythms really animate the songs. The group’s interpretations of “Caldonia” and “Dig That Crazy Chick” are delivered cleanly, there’s a positively wicked version of “Jubilee Stomp,” and the band’s rendition of “Sheik of Araby” feverishly captures that electric New Orleans sound, complete with a blazing clarinet solo and an impressive drum segment. All 17 tracks prove that the band can be a musical powerhouse, although the originals at times sound a bit generic. (Beware: some of these City Swing numbers could be put to commercial use.) And, like many current swing bands, The City Rhythm Orchestra lacks in vocal creativity. Chanteuse Vicki Woodlyn’s voice manages to wax downright soulful on such tracks as “Hit the Road Jack” and “Ooo Wee,” but she seems to rush through several others. She proves to be the more talented between her and her male counterpart, Steve Ritrovato, who, despite the confidence in his voice, really promises nothing stylistically to his listeners.

Despite the album’s few shortcomings, however, the band’s energy shines through, which explains how The City Rhythm Orchestra has managed to keep dance floors filled since its inception in 1985.  This latest release captures their energetic spirit and delivers nearly an hour’s worth of swingin’ fun worth adding to your collection.

- Giancarlo Davis

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