Nicholas McGegan has done more for the early music movement in America than nearly anyone else, and his tireless explorations of the byways of Baroque opera have put many fascinating works into the concert hall and onto recordings. He studied piano at London's Trinity College of Music and learned to play the flute while he was there, but entertained no special desire to study historical performance.
The Kansas City swing blues of the Sweet Baby Blues Band is very difficult not to enjoy. Jeannie Cheatham's exuberant vocals (propelled by her forcefully swinging piano) inspire the many soloists on the blues-oriented material, and there is plenty of variety in tempo and feeling to keep this set continually interesting. Among the main soloists are ageless trumpeter Snooky Young, tenorman Rickey Woodard (making his debut on clarinet on two cuts), and guest altoist Hank Crawford, who sits in on four songs.
This reissue is unrelated to another V.S.O.P. set simply titled A Jazz Band Ball. Terry Gibbs on vibes and marimba matches wits and creativity with Victor Feldman and Larry Bunker, both of whom double on vibes and xylophone. Assisted by pianist Lou Levy, bassist Max Bennett and drummer Mel Lewis, the intriguing frontline essentially plays bop, but with a great deal of color. The interaction between the vibraphonists, who are all featured and occasionally trade off, is the main reason to acquire this very interesting set.