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Vince Norman/Joe McCarthy Big Band: Bright Future

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Release number two for the Norman-McCarthy band, and the momentum from its debut album, Words Cannot Express, as well as ten of its key players being intact, lend continuity to this exciting D.C.-based organization. Since Washington seems to have an inexhaustible supply of eager, first-rate sidemen thanks to the profusion of service bands in the Capital, co-leader/arranger, multi-instrumentalist Norman had no problem picking up where he left off in 2007.

The 18-piece band is a model of sectional clarity and precision that delivers everything Norman challenges them with; the opener, “Knight For A Day,” is eloquent proof. Based on a programmatic premise — conflict between a knight and a dragon (or, as Norman reveals, his heroic victory victory over a “15-foot tall plant growing on my fence line”) — it begins with McCarthy’s simple percussive kick-off that launches a contrapuntal encounter: evil reeds ascending vs. intrepid brass descending. Stalwarts from the debut album — altoist Andy Axelrad, pianist Tony Nalker, guitarist Gary Malvaso — contribute lionhearted solos.

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