The Bill Potts Big Band, surely the finest in this area and one of the best anywhere, worked its way in its usual brash manner through an intelligent, always swinging set last night before an appreciative full house at Blues Alley.
The big-band revival that one has heard so much of lately has been a fraud. The big bands that are being trotted out today tend to be either unimaginative decibel-blasters (Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson) or paper-thin shells of former top bands that dish out smarmy, sweet-smelling stuff (Glenn Miller). Potts' aggregation is neither, for which any big-band fan should be thankful.
Potts, an instructor at the Rockville campus of Montgomery College, is a first-class writer and arranger. His band members, most of whom belong to the service bands, are excellent sight-readers and, occasionally, superb soloists.
Last night, volume sometimes overtook intelligent use of colors and shadings. But the solo work of tenor saxophonists Jim Hayward and Dave Schiff, (especially in "Tin Roof Blues,") alto player Ron Deihl (in Pott's composition, "Momsville") and trumpeter Kenny Smukal, (in Gershwin's "My Man's Gone") plus Potts' usually excellent orchestration, more than made up for any lapse.