A snappy offering from one of the most important big bands in Spain! Very accessible listen containing songs ranging from the most original swing of the Count Basie Big Band, the delicious sound of Kenny Wheeler, and the vocal standards of Ira & George Gershwin to pieces composed by members of the group. Includes five tracks featuring the lush vocals of Laura Simó, of the most important female voices in Spain. Born in Barcelona, her professional career began when she shared the stage with Ray Charles (Girona 1986) and represented Spain in the Performing Arts Festival (MARS, Paris 1988). Gran Canaria Big Band has collaborated and played with musicians such as Ron Carter, Carmen Lundy, Rosa Pasos, Robben Ford, Perico Sambeat, Carme Canela, Cornelius Lund, and Eivin Sannes.
”Just like the regional big bands in the United States, there are many fine ensembles in Europe that are carrying on the big band tradition. The GRAN CANARIA BIG BAND hails from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, but their inspiration comes from the swing tradition over here. They have a new American release Straight Ahead (Summit – 568) that leans heavily on the style of the Count Basie Orchestra. Five of the 13 tracks are instrumentals recorded by the Basie crew, ‘Basie Straight Ahead,’ ‘The Late, Late Show,’ ‘Flight of the Foo Birds,’ ‘Fawncy Meetin’ You’ and ‘Splanky,’ the last three from the pen of Neal Hefti. Vocalist Laura Simó is featured on ‘A Foggy Day,’ ‘The Man I Love,’ “S Wonderful,’ ‘Time After Time’ and ‘The Lady is a Tramp.’ Two originals, ‘Aquellos Fueron Los Años’ by musical director Juan Manuel Alemán, and ‘Calles Vacias’ by pianist Rayko León demonstrate that the cats from Spain know how to write in the tradition. The program closes with a tune from Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, ‘Gentle Piece,’ that has a somewhat more contemporary feeling. It is nice to know that big band music is alive and well in Spain.” -Jersey Jazz
“The ensemble work is sharp and stylistically appropriate and the group executes the charts with a rhythmic acuity worthy of Basie band arrangements…”