Angela DeNiro And The Ron Aprea Big Band - Swingin' With Legends 2
Early Autumn Productions, 2023
Vocalist Angela DeNiro, in cahoots with husband, arranger, and conductor Ron Aprea, follows up the pair’s 1998 Swingin’ With Legends (Early Autumn Productions) with a second volume of Tin Pan Alley and jazz standards recorded with a big band and featuring saxophonist Lew Tabackin, clarinetist Ken Peplowski, and trumpeter Randy Brecker.
Like many other releases, this recording resulted from being quarantined in the Apreas’ New York City apartment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aprea used the downtime to work up 25 vocal arrangments. When life returned to something normal, Aprea scheduled a couple of run-throughs of the material immediately realizing that this project needed to be brought to its logical conclusion. Aprea arranged and conducted the big band and after only two rehearsals, recorded 14 tracks in six hours.
An initial listen to this recording reveals the project’s punctilious production and engineering. The sonics are exceptional. DeNiro’s voice is captured so that its natural warmth is maintained, accentuating the singer’s masterful control of her instrument. Aprea’s arrangments are sophisticated and thoughtful, structured in such a way as to highlight the disparate talents within the big band.
The Quincy Jones - Peggy Lee composition, “New York City Blues,” opens the disc, featuring DeNiro’s robust and commanding vocals accented with Bryan Davis’ potent trumpet. Clarinetist Ken Peplowski is the first guest to appear, adding his wooden tone to a swinging “Easy to Love.” Randy Brecker lends his trumpet to “Hello Young Lovers” extrapolating the ballad into a full-bore big-band vehicle. Tenor saxophonist Lew Tabackin is featured on “It Might As Well Be Spring”, opening the song solo and taking a stroll on the bridge again.
The late alto saxophonist Phil Woods looms large over the entire recording, Aprea dedicating the disc to him, noting that he was always attracted to Wood’s performance of “Willow Weep For Me,” incorporating here the saxophonist’s light and swinging bop touch. Aprea contributes his own “For Phil” making his dedication complete.
This recording is BIG everything: big band, big arrangements, big voice, big heart.