Arranger/pianist Bob Florence
's release for the MAMA Foundation may very well be his finest; it certainly offers a strong sampling of his talents. Four of the ten songs are standards, and "Oceanography" is based closely on "How Deep Is the Ocean," but Florence
's complex yet logical arrangements make each piece sound like it was written for the band. To name a few examples, "In a Mellow Tone" appears to be in two keys at once at times; "Laura" (normally an emotional ballad) really cooks; and "Teach Me Tonight" is so intense as to be purposely humorous in spots. Among the other highlights of this well-conceived release are Don Shelton
's clarinet feature on "Shimmer," the competitive interplay between Dick Mitchell
and Terry Harrington
throughout "Tenors, Anyone?," and the fluency of trombonist Bob McChesney
on "In a Mellow Tone." The ensembles are consistently clean, exciting, and remarkably relaxed, considering how tricky some of the charts must be. This CD offers modern big band jazz at its best.