John Burnett: Swingin’ in the Windy City
John Burnett, “your British buddy” is the weekday morning host of Chicago’s jazz radio station WDCB 90.9 FM. On this outing John leaves the board, faders and the mic to fulfill his dream to successfully lead a big band. Due in part to the interlocking pool of musicians, Chicago big bands sound great. Guys like saxophonists Richie Corpolongo, Frank Catalano and Dave Creighton, trumpeters Terry Connell and Mike McGrath, bassist Geoff Lowe and drummer Bill Byan are the core of this band and often show up all over town. They can read anything and solo well; there is rarely a night that these guys don’t play a gig or a show. Vocalist Frieda Lee always sounds great on her charts and this recording is no exception.
Grounded on this base of musicians, John Burnett has assembled some of the published big band charts from the ‘40’s and ‘50’s, from easy swingers to dance band favorites—all well known classics, to showcase his taste in music and help promote the concept of a live big band. Plus, as an added bonus he brought clarinetist Buddy DeFranco to Chicago to guest with the band on “Sing Sing, Sing,” “Out of Nowhere” and perhaps the highlight of this album, “The Blues,”—composed and arranged by Slide Hampton for DeFranco. Let’s congratulate our “British buddy” and help him preserve the art of the big band.—MV