Bob Wilber has been an indefatigable champion of the New Orleans and Big Band traditions through associations with Sidney Bechet, Bobby Hackett, Benny Goodman, the World's Greatest Jazz Band and Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Ensemble. Grabbing an opportunity to finally showcase his own fine writing (and playing) with an all-star band assembled for a March 1966 Florida jazz fest, Wilber shines. There are posh originals like "Dancing On a Rainbow" and classy standards such as "It's Been So Long," with Wilber's wife Joanne "Pug" Horton limning the vocal. Whatever the mode or mood, Wilber's seasoned pros strut with some barbecue.
Wilber, who won a Grammy for his astute scoring of Francis Ford Coppola's filmic reincarnation of "The Cotton Club," provides a special treat with his satin-and-sass packaging of "I'm Checking Out-Goom Bye," which in 1939 introduced the songwriting team of Ellington and Strayhorn. Among the stars in Wilber's firmament are trombonist George Masso, pianist Dick Hyman and bassist Phil Flanigan. In all, it's a heartfelt evocation of an era when Astaire and Rogers set the pace "dancing cheek to cheek." It's also a testament to the inimitable talents of the great Bob Wilber.