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Tom Kubis Big Band Plays Steve Allen: Fast Cars & Fascinating Women

Steve Allen is best-known as first host of the “The Tonight Show.” But he’s also written 46 books and acted in films (The Benny Goodman Story). He’s written thousands of songs, including the “Picnic” theme, “This Could Be the Start of Something Big,” a strong score for the Broadway musical “Sophie,” and 19 songs for the TV musical, “Alice in Wonderland.” As a lyricist, he collaborated with Ray Brown (“Gravy Waltz”), Bob Haggart (“South Rampart Street Parade”), Duke Ellington, and Neal Hefti. His songs have been recorded by Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams, Louis Armstrong, Mel Torme, and Carmen McRae.

So it’s good to hear 16 of Allen’s melodies show-cased by a swinging 19-piece band. Kubis, professor of music at Golden West College near Los Angeles, wrote all the arrangements (you’ll hear echoes of Ernie Wilkins and Bill Holman). Kubis solos on tenor sax, with strong solos also by trombonist Andy Martin and Ron Stout on trumpet. Crisp section work, and a variety of moods and tempos: check out “Samba DeElse,” and “Bahia Yodel,” which Allen says “incorporates a traditional Swiss lick.”

Originally Published