The Vince Norman / Joe McCarthy Big Band bears more than a passing resemblance in a number of ways to the Taylor / Fidyk Big Band. First, it is also from the DC area; second, it is co-led by a splendid drummer (McCarthy) and resourceful arranger (Norman); and third, its sidemen were recruited by and large from the area's armed services bands(I counted four each from the Airmen of Note and Army Jazz Ambassadors, three from the Navy Commodores). The overriding similarity is that, like Taylor / Fidyk, these guys know how to swing and do so under any and all conditions. There are, on the other hand, some essential differences, the most obvious of which is that this is a studio date, not a concert. Moreover, the big band doesn't play on every track; there are three numbers by a sextet. And besides writing (or co-writing) every number except for the Bop-era opener, "Tadd's Delight," and producing all the charts, Norman displays his impressive talents elsewhere, playing piano with the band and alto, tenor, soprano sax and bass clarinet with the smaller group, which is heard on "Remember Me When," "El Otono" and "Voo Zsa Day." Trumpet Tim Stanley is eloquent on "Remember" and "Otono," as he is with the big band on "Words Cannot Express." The ensemble closes the session with Norman's captivating three-part "Suite Baby Ray" - the breezy "Left My Baby in Baltimore," Latin-inspired "Back to Bayview" and flag-waving "Coming Home." Norman is a standout on every instrument, underpinning trim and persuasive solos by trombonists Ben Patterson, Chris Buckholz and Jeff Martin, trumpeters Paul Armstrong and Greg Reese, guitarists Jeff Reecer and Gary Malvaso, tenors Tedd Baker and Ben Bokor, soprano Steve Williams, alto Andy Axelrad, baritone Fred Wolfe, pianist Harry Appelman and bassist Max Murray. Norman's also a first-class writer, and none of his compositions is less than engaging. Admirable writing and sharp musicianship usually prompt an emphatic endorsement, and that is certainly the case here.