Personnel: Scotty Morris (vocals, guitar, banjo); Andy Rowley (vocals, baritone saxophone); Dirk Shumaker (vocals, acoustic bass, upright bass); Karl Hunter (clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Glen "The Kid" Marhevka (trumpet); Joshua Levy (piano); Kurt Sodergren (drums).
Audio Mixer: Scotty Morris.
Recording information: Delroy Sound Lab (01/23/2012-01/29/2012); Eastwest Studios 1 (01/23/2012-01/29/2012); Eastwest Studios, Studio 1 (01/23/2012-01/29/2012); Studio 1, Eastwest Studios (01/23/2012-01/29/2012).
Photographer: Lisa Dodge.
Arranger: Joshua Levy.
Since hitting it big in the '90s during the swing revival, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy have stuck to their retro-guns while finding ways to explore new ground. To these ends, 2003's Save My Soul found the band delving into New Orleans rhythms and R&B, while 2009's How Big Can You Get?: The Music of Cab Calloway featured the music of the legendary Hi-De-Ho man. That album brought them deeper into a hardcore jazz sound and most likely helped them in signing with the Savoy Jazz label for 2012's similarly jazz-inflected Rattle Them Bones. Once again centered around the sweet and lyrical lead vocals of guitarist/songwriter Scotty Morris, the album features a mix of new material, jazz covers, and even an unexpected take on Randy Newman's "It's Lonely at the Top." These are crisply produced, urbane, and always swinging tunes that often have an old-school big-band sound. This impressive large ensemble sound comes via the longtime core rhythm section of pianist Joshua Levy, bassist Dirk Shumaker, and drummer Kurt Sodergren, as well as such featured players as trumpeter Glen "The Kid" Marhevka, and saxophonists Karl Hunter and Andy Rowley. With all arrangements by Levy, the band is also complemented by a bevy of stellar studio musicians who round out several cuts here. Also featured here is vocalist Meaghan Smith, who duets with Morris on the romantic midtempo ballad "It Only Took a Kiss." Longtime fans of the group's neo-crooner jazz sound, as well as anybody who digs solidly crafted and always swinging traditional jazz and pop, should find much to enjoy here. ~ Matt Collar