BLUE SKY 5
"Tin Goose Jump"
Blue Sky 5, the Baltimore-Washington swing ensemble, named its debut release after the prototype for the 1947 Tucker Torpedo, "the car of tomorrow, today." Had dashboard CD players been in vogue back then, the music on "Tin Goose Jump" would have made for a perfectly pitched accessory.
Credit bandleader Craig Gildner for getting the tone right. In addition to adding evocative touches on piano and guitar, Gildner is a capable crooner and a fine tunesmith. He wrote 10 of the 15 compositions, and several of them, including "Say You'll Be Mine" and "What a Thing to Say," summon the past without sounding overly sentimental or conspicuously retro. Mind you, his lyrics aren't always cheery. "How Are You Sleeping These Days?," for instance, concerns "memories of our weekend that brought us to our bleak end," but even this lovesick lament has a certain insinuating charm.
Credit Gildner, too, for surrounding himself with musicians who don't view swing-era sounds as merely a campy diversion. Tenor saxophonist Tommy Greco and trumpeter Brett Lemley enliven the arrangements (including a few instrumentals) in both robust and subtle ways, while bassist Glen Oliff and drummer James Peachey spend a lot of time generating dance-hall propulsion. Two guests -- the fine singer Cassie Miller and clarinetist-saxophonist Halley Shoenberg -- make the most of their cameos and help round out the ensemble's thoroughly affectionate, finger-snapping take on yesterday.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Saturday and Thursday at Glen Echo's Spanish Ballroom. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Blue Sky 5, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8105. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)