|Mora's Modern Swingtet - 20th Century Closet|
|Written by Frankie Hagan|
Easily one of the most anticipated swing albums of 2004, 20th Century Closet is a credit to the talent of Dean Mora, and a high mark of recognition for his "little band within the band." Mora's Modern Rhythmists remains a key player in the world of modern swing, during a period where a large amount of neo-big band music is receiving a chilly reception.
Mora's dedication to classy interpretations of transcriptions and published stock arrangements has won his band a loyal following among the ranks of vintage purists, and Mora's Modern Swingtet—presenting the same power in a scaled format—is certainly no exception to that rule. This ensemble includes drums, bass, 2 reeds, a piano, and the trumpet, along with a sassy female vocal to add an extra spark.
This CD provides a lot of bang for the buck with a whopping 20 tracks of listening enjoyment. There's a full range of tempos to enjoy for listening or dancing, from smooth swingin' rides like "Effervescent Blues", "You're A Sweetheart", and "That Lonely Tune" to the blazing fun of fast epics like "Twentieth Century Closet", "Business in F", and "Hop, Skip & Jump". This reviewer's personal picks include a balboa-tastic version of "Stompology" and the tongue-in-cheek risqué metaphors of "I Didn't like It the First Time"—the latter providing a glorious, fun showcase for Kayre Morrison's vocals.
The liner notes include appropriate dated references to original arrangements, stock notes or tedious transcriptions—a wonderful tool for fans attempting to mine the roots of each track. There's a great sense of tradition in this music. Mora's ensemble is largely inspired by the much-lauded John Kirby Orchestra, and Dean credits Kirby's classic formulation as an influence on the style and assembly of his band.
The musicianship is superb and the recordings are amazing. Mora's Modern Swingtet has been around for six years as a complement to the larger big band ensemble, and it finally gets its day in the sun with a debut album—and 20 powerful tracks makes you glad Dean decided to clean out the closet.