Fans of little Port Townsend, Washington's celebrated jazz festival will recognize L.A.-Seattle jazz stars like Pete Christlieb, Bill Ramsay, Jay Thomas, Lanny Morgan, Gary Foster and Greta Matassa from this fine, 18-piece band directed by Bellingham-based Phil Kelly. Kelly has semi-retired from an L.A. studio life that included writing music for 700 commercials, film and TV work, and compositions and arrangements for a host of acclaimed big bands.
From the opening reading of Duke Pearson's classic, Jeannine
, through a repertoire of jazz-spanning forms, this is solid, always-swinging, brainy big band jazz. Notable moments include: a stellar remake of Body and Soul
and vocalist Greta Matassa's string-kissed, dramatic reading of the title track. It inspired me to book a place in Port Townsend for the last weekend in July. Really good stuff. ****