You may not have heard of Jack Cortner, but you’ve probably heard his music. He wrote theme music for The Edge of Night and As The World Turns, but if you’re not into soap operas, you may have heard his arrangement of the theme for Monday Night Football. Or perhaps some of his numerous jingles and charts for folks like Barry Manilow and Freddy Cole. But Cortner is also a fine, straightahead, big-band composer-arranger who’s had a long-term musical association with trumpeter Marvin Stamm. Stamm has frequently commissioned Cortner to provide arrangements for his appearances with bands and orchestras around the country.
Fast Track contains two such charts, “Secret Love” and “Lover Man,” along with “some [other] jazz arrangements and a few themes for TV shows that never got used.” Stamm is the primary soloist, and his playing is stellar—virtuosic and swinging at even the fastest tempos and warmly lyrical on the slow pieces. His wistful first take of “Lover Man” is a standout. But there are also other top-flight soloists in pianist Bill Mays, saxophonist Dave Tofani, trombonist Jim Pugh and drummer John Riley. The razor-sharp ensemble comprises some of New York’s finest players.