The Taylor/Fidyk Big Band, co-led by drummer Steve Fidyk and arranger Mark Taylor, delivers 11 tunes in the style of the late Woody Herman and Thad Jones big bands. Fidyk, drummer for the US Army Blues band, and Taylor, a prolific jazz arranger and composer, have assembled a crack team of players and a great mix of tunes for their sophomore recording.
The band opens with "Full Count," an uptempo swinger with a great shout chorus driven by Fidyk's drums. The "set" continues with Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" and the happy bebop tune "Bradley's Bop House." The ballad "My One and Only Love" changes the pace before "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," which is Fidyk's first attempt at arranging and turns the old warhorse on its head by changing the melody to 3/4 time. Fidyk eventually steps into the spotlight with an extended melodic solo that melts back into the restatement of the melody.
"What'll I Do?" is given a light jazz samba treatment (featuring some tasty brushwork) and is followed by the bebop classic "Anthropology." "Brush Taps" features Fidyk in the grand style of the Count Basie band (think of an updated version of "Cute"). "My Cherie Amour," heard here with a lilting jazz waltz treatment of Stevie Wonder's tune, begins like a mouse but soon roars like a lion with Fidyk's set-ups and fills. "The Gorillaman Blues" closes the recording in a finger-popping fashion with great solos from Matt Niess (trombone), Graham Breedlove and Liesl Whitaker (trumpets).
The Taylor/Fidyk Big Band has great tunes and a tight ensemble sound. Fidyk shows he's got the drive, chops and taste to "drive thebus" for this great band.