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Labor of Love

Rate It! Avg: 4.5 (3 ratings)
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Labor of Love album cover
01
Reuben's Blues
5:39
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02
Send in the Clowns
5:02
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03
Just Friends
4:44
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04
My Old Flame
4:46
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05
All of Me
3:09
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06
My One and Only Love
5:51
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07
Take the A Train
5:05
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08
When Sunny Gets Blue
4:46
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09
Samba Da Yo
4:38
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10
A Little Minor Booze
4:29
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11
Out of Nowhere
3:26
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12
Malaguena
4:42
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Album Information

Total Tracks: 12   Total Length: 56:17

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They Say All Music Guide

Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra leader Lenny King makes no bones about it. He looks to Stan Kenton and Kenton’s great arrangers for his big-band music. The group plays in the style of Kenton not in imitation, but more in admiration. This session features arrangements by Bill Holman, Gene Roland, Willie Maiden, Marty Paich, and Lennie Niehaus. It also includes good orchestrations by members of the band, like trumpeter Kirk Garrison. Whatever they are performing, the CMJO specializes in the same tight, disciplined ensemble work — listen to “Just Friends,” featuring those high-flying solos that were standard with Kenton’s various aggregations.
The session kicks off with the comparatively calm Gene Roland number “Reuben’s Blues,” with a bass intro by Anthony Brock and catchy solos by Garrison on trumpet and Frank Catalano on tenor sax. Matters pick up speed rather quickly after that. “Samba Da Yo” takes the listener into the realm of Latin rhythms with co-composers Catalano on tenor and Hary Kozlowski on trombone taking turns at center stage. “Send in the Clowns” recalls those Kenton arrangements that some call pretentious and others deem classic. But no one can deny the brilliance of Garrison’s Maynard Ferguson-like trumpet on this piece. Kenton’s penchant for solemn arrangements is heard on a haunting rendition of “My Old Flame,” with Bryan Murray’s tender tenor competing with blaring brass. One of the more elaborate of Kenton’s recordings was Bill Holman’s arrangement of “Malaguena.” The CMJO’s performance of this arrangement is as heart-stopping as the original. Lenny King’s wife Joni King sings on “When Sunny Gets Blue,” and a nice, upbeat but not frantic “All of Me” adds a needed calm and relaxed touch to the session.
All of the members of this aggregation are well-experienced in big-band work as performers, in academic settings, or both. Several are also members of another fine Chicago large ensemble, Bill O’Connell & the Chicago Skyliner Big Band. While some of the arrangements are a bit long in the tooth, their performances by the CMJO are fresh, dazzling, and exiting. Labor of Love will surfeit the appetites of Kenton and jazz orchestra fans alike. Highly recommended. – Dave Nathan

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