The Midiri Brothers Orchestra

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Jack Bowers recently reviewed "Finger Bustin" along with, "QUIET" by the BIG BAND DEL FORO for Cadence Jazz Magazine, October 2001 issue:

MIDIRI BROTHERS ORCHESTRA,
FINGER BUSTIN'
,
MID 3.

Clarinade / Don't Get Around Much Anymore / Petite Fleur / Come Dance with Me / My Inspiration / Bye Bye Blackbird / Undecided / As Time Goes By / Caldonia / I Want a Little Girl / 'Tain't What You Do / Night and Day / Finger Bustin'. 44:56.

Big Band - Joe Midiri, as, cl; Paul Midiri (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13), d; Steve Schaffner, Ron Cason, Dave Dilks, tpt; Joe Vettori, Ed Golaszewski, Bob Quaile, Wendell Hobbs, rds; Rick Linn, Art Leiby, Paul Midiri, tbn; Pat Mercuri, g; Joe Holt, p; Tim Lekan, Bruce Kaminsky (3, 7, 12), b; Jim Lawlor (2, 4, 6, 8, 9-11), d; Paula Johns, Jim Lawlor ("Caldonia"), vocals. Quartet - Joe Midiri, cl; Mercuri, g; Kaminsky, b; Paul Midiri, d. Quintet - Joe Midiri, cl; Mercuri, g; Kaminsky, b; Holt, p; Paul Midiri, d. NJ, June 22, 1999.

The music on "Finger Bustin" is closer to home in more ways than one. The Midiri Brothers Orchestra, from New Jersey, is a neo-swing ensemble that pours more unbridled vitality and enthusiasm into Track 1 (Mel Powell's "Clarinade," written for the King of Swing, Benny Goodman) than one can perceive on the whole of "Quiet".

That's not to say that one band is "better" than the other; only different. Big Band del Foro is introspective, the Midiri Brothers Orchestra gregarious. There's enough elbow room in Jazz to accommodate both means of expression, and one's response to either is a matter of personal choice.

There's no question, however, that Midiri's light-hearted approach is invariably entertaining, even though (and we're into personal preferences again) seven vocals on thirteen selections taxes one's threshold of endurance. Five are by the orchestra's resident "girl singer," Paula Johns, the others by leather-lunged Jim Lawlor ("Caldonia") and Satchmo simulator Joe Midiri ("I Want a Little Girl").

The instrumentals, all of which showcase Joe Midiri's Goodmanesque clarinet, are delightful, including the aptly named title selection on which he plays both alto and clarinet in an excellent transcription by Steve Schaffner of Jimmy Dorsey's 1941 recording. Charlie Shavers' "Undecided" and Cole Porter's "Night and Day" feature clarinet and rhythm (drummer Paul Midiri, guitarist Pat Mercuri, bassist Bruce Kaminsky), Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur" the same with pianist Bruce Holt added. While the orchestra and smaller groups are admirable and the vocals relatively easy to swallow, there's no doubt that Joe Midiri and his finger bustin' clarinet (and alto sax) are the headliners.

Jack Bowers

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This page last updated May 31 2009 01:23:46 -0400
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