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Blue Wisp Big Band: Rollin’ With Von Ohlen and Live at Carmelo’s

This reissue combines two albums recorded in 1984 by Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp Band, a swinging outfit propelled by the drums of John Von Ohlen and featuring, among others, trumpeter Tim Hagens (now known for his albums on Blue Note). Chief arrangers Al Kiger (trumpet) and Larry Dickson (baritone saxophone) are fond of Thad Jones-like voicings and rhythms, and the band is more straightahead than ethereal. The group pays its respects to Ellington (as all big bands should) in the form of “Sophisticated Lady,” “Rockin’ In Rhythm,” and “Bloodcount.” Among other standards, it also plays “Manteca,” “In the Still Of The Night,” and “Footprints”-quite a spread in all.

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