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January/February 2002

Charlie May All Star Big Band
Plays Gaylord Jones
Pony Boy Records

What should have been a great listening experience, considering the solo chops of the sidemen, turns out to be, essentially, for dancers only, recorded in a club that exists, essentially, for listeners only: Red Kelly's, in Tacoma, Wash. The Charlie May All Star Big Band Plays Gaylord Jones (Pony Boy PB50126-2; 66:35) wastes some of the best instrumentalists in the Seattle-Tacoma area in order to concentrate on the tenor and vocals of Charlie May. Granted, May is a legend, but so is saxophonist Bill Ramsay, who was virtually neglected along with future hall of famers such as trumpeters Jay Thomas and Lance Buller, pianist John Hansen and bassist Larry Holloway.

As for the writing, Jones seemed to be locked in to one tempo: moderate. The only variation comes in the form of slow-dance medleys. His charts didn't seem to spark the band, except on rare occasions like "Rifette," "Blue Skies" and "Perdido." And the less said about May's vocals, the better.

Originally published in January/February 2002
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