The Peter Hand Big Band featuring Houston Person : The Wizard of Jazz: A Tribute to Harold Arlen

Guitarist Hand organized a big band featuring musicians who will be very familiar to jazz fans and arranged Harold Arlen tunes and composed one of his own for a concert at Irvington Town Hall Theater in 2005 commemorating the centennial of Arlen’s birth. The recording documents this concert, which features seemingly perfectly executed performances by musicians who are comfortable with the material. Person takes the melody on every tune and is in good form throughout. The arrangements are good and the solos and rhythm accompaniment are consistently well done. The horns are better recorded than the rhythm section.

The reaction of the listener to this record will depend on how familiar they are with the material. Someone hearing these performances of “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “The Man That Got Away,” “Let’s Fall In Love,” “Stormy Weather” and “Over the Rainbow” for the first time may enjoy them more than those of us who became familiar with them decades ago and have established favorite versions of them that this recording will not displace. Nonetheless, Hand is to be credited with putting on what must have been a very enjoyable concert and making a quality recording.