Gene Harris All Star Big Band: Gene Harris (piano); Marshall Royal, Bill Green, Jackie Kelson (alto saxophone); Bob Cooper, Plas Johnson (tenor saxophone); Jack Nimitz (baritone saxophone); Jon Faddis, Snooky Young, Conte Candoli, Frank Szabo, Bobby Bryant (trumpet); Bill Watrous, Thurman Green, Garnett Brown (trombone); Herb Ellis (guitar); Ray Brown, James Leary (bass); Jeff Hamilton (drums).
Recorded at Evergreen Studios, Burbank, California in March and June 1987. Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff and Bennett Rubin.
Personnel: Gene Harris (piano); Herb Ellis (guitar); Bill Green , Marshall Royal (alto saxophone); Plas Johnson , Bob Cooper (tenor saxophone); Jack Nimitz (baritone saxophone); Conte Candoli, Jon Faddis, Snooky Young, Frank Szabo, Bobby Bryant (trumpet); Bill Waltrous, Garnett Brown, Thurman Green, Bill Watrous, Charles Loper, William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach Jr. (trombone); Jeff Hamilton (drums).
Recording information: 03/1987-06/1987.
A big-band date that slightly predated pianist Gene Harris' association with the Philip Morris Superband, this CD is ostensibly a tribute to the recently deceased Count Basie, but surprisingly, only two of the eight songs ("Swingin' the Blues" and "Blue and Sentimental") were played by Basie, although one original ("Captain Bill") was written in homage of the bandleader. Harris' 16-piece orchestra does bring back the spirit of Basie's band in spots, with a lightly but steadily swinging rhythm section and such soloists as trumpeters Conte Candoli and Jon Faddis and tenors Plas Johnson and Bob Cooper. But in reality, Harris dominates the solo spotlight, and the music (which includes a memorable version of "When Did You Leave Heaven") is a bit predictable. ~ Scott Yanow