It's Been So Long
The title tune for this CD is It's Been So Long by Walter Donaldson. The tune is appropriate since it has been 'so long' since top flight musicians gathered to play and jam with any frequency. Those gatherings used to be commonplace back in the Thirties, Forties and even into the Fifties. You might find any number of excellent musicians getting together in 52nd Street clubs, in afterhours joints, or on radio programs such as 'The Saturday Night Swing Sessions' simply to make good music. Brooks Tegler's Capital Combinations includes groupings of 14 outstanding musicians from Washington, DC, suburban Virginia and Maryland whose paths cross often enough in different groups to have built up a respect and admiration for each other's work. The constants throughout the CD are Marty Nau, on alto and sometimes clarinet; John Jensen on trombone; Chuck Redd on vibes; Tom Mitchell on guitar; Robert Redd on piano; and Brooks Tegler on drums. The tenor and baritone sax work is split between Scott Silbert and John Doughten, with Scott also providing some of the key arrangements. The trumpet work is split between Vince McCool and Marc Weigel, with the bass work being divided between John Previti and Tom Cecil. Vocals by Brooks, Tom Mitchell, Lynn McCune and Jim Stephenson are also featured. The strongest part of this CD is the ensemble work of the various combinations, which is outstanding. The music is basically that of the Swing Era with touches and shades of more modern jazz styles also in evidence. The individual work of all of the players is what you would expect from musicians of this caliber. However, special mention has to go to the very strong and excellent playing throughout of Marty Nau, mostly on alto but also on clarinet. The same can be said, as well, of trumpeter Vince McCool, whose work is also consistently strong with great ideas. John Doughten, the only outlander in the group (he's from Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania) does outstanding work on clarinet on You Turned the Tables On Me and on baritone sax on Jive At Five. The same can be said of Marc Weigel's trumpet work on Jive At Five. John Jensen's trombone and Chuck Redd's vibes are both very appealing, as are Tom Mitchell's guitar and Robert Redd's piano. The bass work of both John Previti and Tom Cecil is great, especially Previti on The Chaser and Cecil on It's Been So Long. Brooks' drumming is tasty throughout and very supportive to the other musicians. I could go on about each and every number and that consistently good ensemble work as well as the solos...but space, of course, does not permit. Nevertheless, I do want to mention five of the cuts in particular. The first of these is Suspension Blues, written by trombonist Vic Dickenson, which naturally features the excellent trombone of John Jensen, the outstanding baritone of Scott Silbert and the aforementioned alto of Marty Nau. On this, the longest cut on the CD, listen for some nice drum work by Brooks. Ready for Freddie by Charles Thompson again features that marvelous ensemble work along with swinging solos from Marty Nau on alto, John Jensen on trombone, Scott Silbert, this time on tenor, Vince McCool on trumpet, and Robert Redd on piano. My Funny Valentine is a tour de force for John Doughten's more modern sounding tenor, with an excellent intro from Tom Mitchell on guitar and great support from Robert Redd on piano. Don't Let It Go To Your Head, which has not been heard that often, again stands out with Brooks' vocal, Marty's alto, Tom's guitar, Robert's piano and Tom Cecil's bass. Finally, a close listen to Remember is recommended, with McCool's 'cool' trumpet, Marty's alto, John Jensen's trombone, Robert Redd's piano and back to McCool's trumpet, this time kind of sweet and sassy. The CD 'It's Been So Long' proves once again not all of the best musicians are located in L.A. or New York. This is true, of course, of many other areas other than the ones represented by Brooks Tegler's Capital Combinations. This is a CD any jazz fan would enjoy for listening or, yes, even dancing because most of this is danceable music, as was most of the music of the Swing Era. -John Tegler, host, Jazz Straight Ahead, WEAA-FM Baltimore.