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The Ed Palermo Big Band: The Great Un-American Songbook Vol. III: Run For Your Life

Ed Palermo is a world class jazz arranger who's been mashing up songs and styles for twenty-five years and then some, most famous for his Zappa big band presentations spread over multiple successful residencies and recordings. In recent times Palermo has branched out to include a variety of other pop composers on releases from the 2010s, most recently focusing on The Beatles and other British Invasion acts on The Great Un-American Songbook Vols I & II, a double CD set that hearkens back to the 1960s and 70s when Jazz combos around the country were turning away from standards to mine contemporary pop and rock songbooks for material. Palermo's follow-up, The Great Un-American Songbook Vol. III: Run For Your Life, is another set of inventive takes on the classic rock era.

With material like this, it's certainly hard not to have an enjoyable listen as the familiar melodies of The Beatles, Jethro Tull, Zappa, Traffic and others wash over you; the jazz settings for these songs being both inventive and engaging. It's especially fun to hear Palermo re-work songs and inject bits and pieces from random sources into the arrangements. He starts the synthesis with the very first track, spicing up 'With You, Without You' by laying a piece of The Hollies 'Stop, Stop, Stop' down in the middle. A little further on a brief snippet of 'Light My Fire' leaps off the chart in 'Come Together.' But Palermo's affinity with Zappa's work is particularly apparent as he weaves it in with Lennon/McCartney compositions. 'Fixing A Hole' with 'Let's Move To Cleveland' and 'Chunga's Revenge' with 'Come Together' are two of the album's most amazing tracks.

While the entire band is spot on across the board, special mentions will go to violinist Katie Jacoby, who brings unique excitement to both aforementioned Zappa/Beatles marriages as well as another standout 'Strawberry Fields' / 'Shove It Right In,' and she further contributes to the driving intensity of 'Nothing is Easy.' John Bailey's trumpet stands out both in the arrangement and his solo for 'Run For Your Life.' 'Glad' is punctuated by Bob Quaranta's piano and seriously cool horn charts, and an awesome solo from Bill Straub on tenor. 'Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite' benefits from the solo talents of John Bailey and Phil Chester on soprano sax.

A quartet of vocal numbers featuring the solid vocals of singer Bruce McDaniel round out the album, with 'Nothing Is Easy' and 'Nights In White Satin' brandishing those inventive horn charts and Katie Jacoby's violin as secret weapons. McDaniel is especially effective covering Ian Anderson. However the two songs sandwiched in between are somewhat mystifying; fairly straightforward renderings of Procol Harum favorites 'Salty Dog' and 'Shine On Brightly,' both of which are awesome songs that McDaniel sings beautifully but neither one brings much to the table in terms of arranging genius or stellar soloing. For me these are the two oddities on the record.

The Great Un-American Songbook Vol. III: Run For Your Life is a recommended listen for jazz fans and classic rock fans with a taste for adventure. This isn't living at the pinnacle of The Ed Palermo Big Band catalog but it's a masterful good time with one of today's hottest big bands.

Track List:
1. Within You Without You (Part 1) / Stop Stop Stop
2. Run for Your Life
3. Strawberry Fields Forever / Shove It Right In
4. Glad
5. And Your Bird Can Sing
6. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
7. Within You Without You (Part 2) / Chunga's Revenge
9. Something in the Air
10. Let's Move to Cleveland / Fixing a Hole
11. Nothing is Easy
12. A Salty Dog
13. Shine on Brightly
14. Nights in White Satin / Moggio

Added: April 19th 2021
Reviewer: Keith Fotheringham
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 728
Language: english

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