A young big band conductor. A rarity to be sure, but not necessarily an oxymoron. Chris Walden proves that in this album, a surprisingly versatile primer of the big band. Walden can use traditional techniques, with a soloist over the top of a soft backing of horns, as you'll hear in the Christopher Cross-penned "Rainy Day in Vancouver," as well as his own Film Noir series. He can invoke the spirit of Tadd Dameron's bop big bands, which you'll get glimpses of in "Cherokee." He can cover old Jimmy Van Heusen classics and film scores with ease, adapt the intricacy of four to a large ensemble, and even force the old Star Wars pieces to fit into a classic-'60s big band sound. The playing on the part of the band is spotless and finessed. They can slink and smash equally well, and support and solo in turn. There's a quiet big band renaissance movement afoot, and Walden, while not necessarily standing at the forefront to force it upon the listener, very ably shows off what a big band can do, and how well it can be done.