Eyal Vilner Big Band is reviewed NYC Jazz Record in the October Edition with Swing Out!

NYC JAZZ RECORD (October Edition)

by Scott Yanow

First formed around a decade ago as a modern bop-oriented orchestra (their debut recording included such songs as “Woody’n You” and “Un Poco Loco”) the Eyal Vilner Big Band has gradually evolved into a much more swing-based band that plays for jitterbugging dancers. Swing Out!, its fourth release, makes the case that it is one of the most versatile and hard-swinging units in its field.The dozen selections are full of surprises and consistent joy. Vilner’s opening original “Downhill” introduces the group as a fairly conventional big band touched by the influence of Count Basie. That all changes on “In A Mellow Tone” which, rather than emulating Duke Ellington as expected, has Brianna Thomas singing vocalese lyrics based on an obscure Trummy Young trombone solo.A rollicking “Dinah” by Harry Akst-Sam M. Lewis-Joe Young, Louis Alter-Eddie DeLange’s “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans” (highlighted by James Zollar’s trad trumpet) and W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues”, which is partly based on a Louis Armstrong solo, find the band sounding quite credible hinting at both New Orleans jazz and early swing.Brandon Bain’s vocal on Bob Haymes-Alan Brandt’s “That’s All” (with Vilner taking a fine alto solo) is ‘50s swing, “Big Apple Contest” from the 1939 film Keep Punchin’ is a riff-filled dance number that cooks and Walter Donaldson-Gus Kahn’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me” is based on Nina Simone’s hit version of the late ‘50s. The other numbers are Vilner’s solid swinger “Going Uptown”, a rock-and-rollish “5-10-15 Hours” (a big hit for Ruth Brown written by Rudy Toombs), Sholom Secunda-Jacob Jacobs’ “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” and an episodic and adventurous take on the traditional song “I’m On My Way To Canaan Land”, which includes a free section, a gospel-flavored vocal by Thomas and some complex ensembles worthy of Ellington.While there are some fine short solos, it is the band’s spirit that is most memorable, Swing Out! is a delight for both listeners and swing dancers. For more information, visit eyalvilner.com. This band is at The Django Oct. 16th and Birdland Oct. 20th

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