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Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble: I Dig

Recorded April 29, 2000, at the Fine Line Cafe in Minneapolis, Minn., I Dig is an hour of big, brassy, and decidedly ballsy bachelor-pad and exotica cool from the Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble (formerly the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble). Led by conductor/artistic director Duane Schulthess, ICE (no wonder they changed their name: the acronym MCE just doesn’t have that same hipster vibe) offers 12 straight-forward, high-octane covers of such so-sleek classics as Elmer Bernstein’s theme from The Man With the Golden Arm, Ira Newborn’s title tune from The Naked Gun series (an amazingly swinging number that finally gets its due) and even “Screamin'” Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.”

The band is gin-and-tonic tight, the sound quality is flawless and the only time the audience breaks through is when they’re clinking their cocktail glasses and clapping wildly during the numbers. There’s also not an ironic note to be found here, which doesn’t mean the gang doesn’t like to have a little wink-wink fun now and then: Twin Cities lounge crooner Vic Volare takes the clarinet lead on Leonard Bernstein’s “Prelude, Fugue and Riffs,” and Minnesota Opera star Janet Gottschall Fried unleashes her pipes on Moises Vivanco’s “Malambo #1.” And for the oh-so-appropriate finale, ICE sums up the randy spirit of the brilliant evening with Quincy Jones’ “Soul Bossa Nova,” made popular again recently as the cruising theme for the International Man of Mystery himself, Austin Powers. Will I Dig make you horny? You got it, baby.

Originally Published