Roots Music Report reviews Flying Horse Big Band’s Florida Rays

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Flying Horse Big Band


Written by Joe Ross
November 1, 2020 – 12:38am EDT

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Based in Orlando, The Flying Horse Big Band’s seventh album is a splendid tribute to the musical genius of Ray Charles whose formative years were spent in Florida. The big band is directed by Jeff Rupert, Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Central Florida. He also arranged three of the Ray Charles classic hits, “One Mint Julep,” “It Should’ve Been Me,” and “You Don’t Know Me.”  While the memorable instrumental hit from Charles’ own early-60s big band session is the perfect way to open this album, it’s also the four guest vocalists (Rob Paparozzi, Vance Villastrigo, DaVonda Simmons, and Khristian Dentley) who capture the spiritually-tinged and lyrical emotional intensity of selections like “Hallelujah I Love Her So” and “What’d I Say.” Besides being a featured vocalist, Paparozzi’s harmonica is a tasty addition to tracks like “I’m Movin’ On,” “Busted” and “Hit the Road, Jack.” The Flying Horse Big Band must’ve surely had fun interpreting these hits with their own jazz, R&B, pop and country flavorings. For example, Khristian Dentley gives a bright, breezy, soulful rendering of “(It’s Not Easy) Being Green.” And while the song has no association with Ray Charles, Rupert’s arrangement of “Watermelon Man” gets into a lively, funk groove.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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