Posted 3.28.02 at Rambles "a cultural arts magazine"
JAZZ: The Midiri Brothers Orchestra -- Finger Bustin' (Self-Produced) 1999
By Charlie Ricci
Roll Over Artie Shaw and tell Woody Herman the news. Benny Goodman is alive and well, still playing his swing music to adoring fans in the guise of The Midiri Brothers Orchestra.
Joe Midiri, leader of the orchestra along with his brother Paul, is a clarinet virtuoso who can replicate Goodman's sound to the letter. His playing isn't just mimicry because his love of the Goodman sound shines through on every note. Fans of 1930's swing will revel in the joyous instrumental sounds made by this retro-sounding big band.
The band's style is so close to Goodman's that one might think these recordings are digitally enhanced Goodman originals. Midiri's staccato playing on the title cut is breathtaking. The band's rhythm section always cooks behind his solos & the ensemble playing by the reed and brass sections remains loose but obviously well rehearsed. The instrumentals, all old jazz tunes that pure nostalgia fans probably would not recognize, include pieces recorded with a quartet and quintet. All are wonderful swing tunes and are exquisitely played. Some tracks are exact transcriptions of the original recordings but the pieces still sound original because of their anonymity and because no one else plays this kind of music anymore.
. . . the instrumental jazz arrangements may be the best old time jazz music I have heard in many, many years.
Finger Bustin' is a 1999 recording that made me wonder which direction the Midiri Brothers would take on subsequent outings. I received a very happy answer to that question on Live at Bridgewater recorded with a septet in 2001.
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