The H2 Big Band

It Could Happen


MUSIC REVIEW BY Jack Bowers, All About Jazz


4-STARS - As Shakespeare wrote, "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Who would dare argue with that? The point is that It Could Happen, the second recording by the H2 Big Band, is performed by a world-class ensemble. It's just not the H2 Big Band, which essentially remained home in Colorado save for its co-leaders, trumpeter Al Hood and pianist Dave Hanson. This is in fact a group of Los Angeles-based studio musicians and their kin masquerading as the H2 Big Band, and, make no mistake, doing a spot-on impersonation (in other words, smelling like a rose). And technically, as Hood and Hanson are present and accounted for, it is the H2 ensemble, or at least a close cousin thereof. As Shakespeare wrote . . .

To be fair (and accurate), one other member of the "regular" H2 Big Band is in the lineup: alto saxophonist Rich Chiaraluce who does his best to keep pace with trumpeter par excellence Carl Saunders on the memorable Johnny Burke / Jimmy van Heusen standard "It Could Happen to You," from which the album derives its name. Hanson wrote all the charts, and they are as bright and engaging as any big-band arrangements you're likely to encounter. He also composed three of the album's conclusive instrumental highlights - "C.P. You," "Lynda B" and "B in C." The full band performs on eight tracks, smaller groups on the other three. A string section is added on "The Look of Love" and "Autobiography."

Even with so many thoroughbreds in the stable, the leaders apparently felt the band needed some extra horsepower (not true), so the well-known vocalist Rene Marie was enlisted to lend her talents to four numbers: Burt Bacharach / Hal David's "The Look of Love" and three of her own compositions, "Black Lace Freudian Slip," "I Like You" and "Autobiography." She's fine, in an unpretentious sort of way; enunciates clearly, respects a lyric and sings on-key. Rene Marie fares best on the fast-paced "I Like You," perhaps because it's the most charming of the four tunes on which she appears (enriched by Hanson's sharp arrangement). The "C.P." in Hanson's "C.P. You" is Cole Porter, the song his variation on Porter's standard "All of You." "Lynda B" is Hanson's salute to comic artist Lynda Barry, the bluesy "B in C" a tune originally written in the key of B but, Hanson notes, "a lot easier to play in C." The closing number is yet another high spot: Hanson's superb arrangement of the standard "You Go to My Head," with solo to match by alto Gary Foster.

Hanson, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Joe LaBarbera comprise an unflagging rhythm section, and there are inspired solos along the way by Hood (featured on Jeff Jenkins' "Healing Hymn"), trombonists Andy Martin and Bob McChesney, tenors Rob Lockart and Brandon Fields, trumpeter Ron Stout and guitarist Larry Koonse. Even without their "regular" band, co-leaders Hanson and Hood have produced another unequivocal winner. Could they do any less? It Could Happen, but don't bet on it.





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