Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dick Reynolds: Music & Friends

Origin Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Music & Friends


I’ve not heard a real “dance band” for quite some time. This organization, headed by pianist Dick Reynolds, falls very nicely into that category. 

In the 1960s, Reynolds was the house pianist at Mr. Kelly’s Jazz Club, in Chicago; in that capacity, he worked with the likes of Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McCrea and many others. Reynolds subsequently started his own commercial endeavor (Com Track) in Chicago, where he wrote, filmed and recorded advertising jingles for International companies such as United Airlines and McDonalds. He’d knock out ads by day, then play music at night.

His other longtime love is fishing: a pastime that relaxed and soothed the mind, and brought him recognition as “The Fishin’ Musician.” That said, this album illustrates that music remains front and center.

The roughly two dozen “Friends” who participated here are, to quote Reynolds, “mostly guys I worked with.” The format is big band, although not everyone plays on all 13 tracks. The rhythm section consists of piano, bass, drums and guitar; the basic brass section draws from half a dozen trumpets/flugelhorns and five trombonists; the reeds number another half-dozen; and a harmonica and additional percussionists are thrown in for good measure. 

The liner notes don’t detail the cadre members for each tune, but I’m guessing that the basic unit averages a dozen to 15 artists.

Whatever the size, the performance is smooth, mellow and — most important — danceable. Interestingly, no standards are performed; each track is an original, and several are tributes to other musicians. The album presentation evokes echoes old LPs, in that most of the tracks run three to six minutes. It definitely takes us back to the big band years.

This is a neat release, and certain to be enjoyed by listeners who lived through that period.

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