January/February 2002

Dan McMillian Jazz Orchestra
Got the Spirit
Sea Breeze

Lots of strong trumpeting to be heard on Dan McMillion Jazz Orchestra's Got the Spirit (Sea Breeze SB-2111; 53:52), but it comes not from the lead, but the leader. McMillion, born in West Virginia 64 years ago and raised in Detroit, listened to all the big bands and was influenced by Harry James, Ray Anthony and particularly Maynard Ferguson (familiar scenario, no?). He dreamed of a big band roaring behind him while he was soaring out front. Well, he achieved half of his dream. McMillion takes flight on trumpet, flugelhorn and superbone in spite of a band that tends to get mired in the intricacies of charts by Oliver Nelson, Dave Wolpe, Sammy Nestico, Bill Holman and Bill Mathieu. They have their concerted moments, the most exciting being "Closing Time at the Engine Room Bar"; even some solo gems, from tenor saxophonist Jeff Jordan, pianist Richard Drexler, baritone saxophonist Valerie Gillespie, trombonist Roger Delillo and, of course, the "glee club" intoning a plagal cadence (you know, the four/one amen chord) at the end of "Got the Spirit."

Originally published in January/February 2002
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