The Swing Shift Orchestra Review
by Natalie Wilson
COUNT BASIE LIVES!
That was pretty obvious at our January event…and that’s not at all a bad thing… in fact, it’s a great thing! We we were treated to a swingin’ afternoon of fabulous big band jazz brought to us courtesy of the terrific Swing Shift band. These guys may not be young, but it’s clear that they have great energy, lots of chops, and love to play… and play they did! The seasoned players are under the direction of “Diz” Mullins who had stints with big bands including the famed band of Charlie Barnett. Although he doesn’t play with this band anymore, he fronts the group and does the count offs and precedes each tune with a narrative about its history and who made it popular. There were so many terrific standards played that afternoon, it’s hard to mention them all, but Frank Foster’s Moton Swing was a favorite and definitely had that wonderful Basie sound kept alive by guitarist, Michael Schmok doing the Freddy Green thing which is so prevalent in all of Basie’s music. The rest of that wonderful rhythm section pianist, John Boyd, bassist, Jim Wade, and drummer, Larry Perpoli also kept that signature sound going. And Jim Calire…what an amazing tenor sax player! He demonstrated his considerable talent with melodic solos on most numbers including Neil Hefti’s arrangement of Flight of the Foo Birds and When You’re Smiling. The band’s vocalist, Jan Nelsen is the quintessential big band singer. She sang some great numbers, but my favorite was Baby, Baby All The Time, made famous by Nat King Cole and arranged by Jim Calire. The band also paid homage to a later band leader, Shorty Rogers, on Short Stop with a fine trumpet solo by Randy Jones. If you missed this great performance or just want to hear them again, they play every forth Sunday from 5 to 8pm at the Sportsman Restaurant and Lounge, 4426 Central Avenue. Camarillo, 93010.