Army Blues – Album #3

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Published In 1975

Another recording closely followed in 1975. This one, as the others had been, was done at the old T-71 building. Songs were once again chosen by committee. This one finds songs ranging from the very old (1919’s “Jada”) to the very current (1974’s “Tom Cat”) The band’s own members, too, had a hand in writing and arranging as did the staff arrangers – Alex Smith, Loren Wilfong, and Chuck Sayre.

“Tom Cat” was a Gause arrangement”, Bob says. “We all liked it. [Engineer Jerry] Nedilsky put his seal of approval on it with the sound effect thing which, of course, was never heard in concert. It was something different and we liked it.” As for Gause’s playing, “We were excited about Gause’s playing and it was a group decision to include the song on the album.” When asked where this arrangement of “Old Man River” came from, Bob says, “We have no idea. There were a lot of arrangements that just appeared and they would have the name up on the banner but we don’t know where they came from. That was one of the ones we just flew blind with in regards to permission because we didn’t know who to ask. The responsible person just never surfaced.” “Fancy” was one of Bob’s favorites, “The guy who wrote is is Marius Nordal. I loved playing his stuff because of his unique voicings. He really wrote for big band. He just really pleased my ears with the types of things he did and I’m sorry we didn’t do more things by him.” On the subject of “Jada”, Bob says, “It’s an old tune from about 1919. It’s an old novelty song. It was arranged by Bob Shepard. He loved the tune and wanted to do something bizarre. He just came up with this novelty song that he wanted to record. It certainly isn’t recognizable. Our audiences wouldn’t have known it was an old song.” “Farewell Blues” has it’s own interesting story. “We gave (arranger) Alex Smith this tune to take off the record. It was an old Glenn Miller arrangement. We took it a lot faster and there are a lot of variations from the original arrangement. The reed parts are actually wrong. As we did with a lot of things, we simply took it too fast. We did so for excitement purposes and, sometimes, in an effort to simply get it over with (laughs)”.

This album was actually the first of many that would be played on local radio. “What Dave (Nordland) and I would do is we’d kind of hit the radio stations”, says Bob. “We’d hit WEAM and WMAL. We were good friends with (WEAM’s Bill) Mayhugh and those guys and we’d send them the recordings and they’d play them. They certainly more than fit in with the format of both stations and it was kinda cool to hear ourselves on the radio from time to time.”

Audio Note: As has been the case thus far, this album was mastered from two “EQ limited” reels originally used to press the albums. The album is quite long (nearly 50 minutes) so when they created the tapes for the vinyl mastering, they removed a considerable amount of bass. Thanks to modern technology, I was able to restore it. Beyond that, the sonics are fantastic and it was a pleasure to master. This stuff is timeless and I enjoy it just as much now as I did when I first got it. My personal favorites? It would either be the aforementioned “Fancy” or “Wendy’s Theme – a gorgeous tune composed and arranged by one of the band’s trumpeters, Tom Brown. Playing with music like this makes me very glad I do what I do. (Ed)