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Tony Fortunato & The Emperors of Swing
"1"

Some parents try to teach their children the value of a dollar. If you want a big bang for your buck, let me recommend the ambitiously titled debut CD, 1 (as in volumes), by Tony Fortunato & the Emperors of Swing (DOK ROK Records). There are 22 tracks of music waiting for the listener, served up to order by Fortunato in his multi-tasking role of saxophone, vocals, and conductor. He's backed by a full range of trumpets, trombones, tuba, guitar, bass and drums in classic big band style. The throaty Brenna Thorpe rounds out the swingin' sounds with a voice that is rich with honey. The taste is particularly sweet on "When I Fall in Love" and Fly Me To The Moon."

No mistaking, this is an album of standards. Some of the more inventive arrangements include "My Opener," a star-spangled declaration that every swing DJ should own, and "Jump Jive & Wail," which seems deceptively predictable until a fascinating mambo backbeat throws you off balance. The Emperors' swingtastic version of "Summertime" is another standout. The album overall is very danceable, and Fortunato approaches his material with a great desire to stir the heart of a lindy hopper. The tracks pop with an abrupt pace and then move into slow dance torch songs, from the opening "Whistle Me Some Blues" to "It's Almost Like Being in Love." You have to love a sound this big, and 22 tracks is barely enough to contain it.

—Frankie Hagan



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