OK, before we get to the album, a few things.
Yes, I am aware that I’m weeks behind on my Writing Music Monday posts. Seventeen weeks, to be precise.
The weird thing is, I’ve had albums selected for the entire time, with fifteen permanently recorded on my WMM 2016 playlist, and several more lined up but not transferred over to it yet.
I don’t know exactly what the problem has been. Partly, it is depression, which saps the motivation to transition from having made a decision to actually completing a post. But it feels like there was some kind of a mental clog adding to that lack of motivation. Whatever it is, I’m finally pushing through it. I hope.
So, for the next almost-three-weeks, there will be daily (or mostly-daily) music posts, to catch back up to where I am supposed to be as quickly as possible.
This album should have been posted on 4 July 2016.
Meet U.S. Army Blues, a part of the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”). This live performance recording is all I currently know about them, but it’s more than enough — these cats swing! They even have a certain amount of the requisite cheese and too-polished sound of the swing bands that survived the forties, such as Ellington’s and Calloway’s. Not too much, but enough to know that it’s there by intent.
The performance is noted as a particular tribute to Duke Ellington, and most of the original compositions absolutely put me in mind of Ellington recordings from the mid to late 1950s. Loud, brassy, exuberant, and sophisticated.
In fact, my only real complaint about the whole performance is that I, strangely, have just never cared for Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust”. That puts me in a minority of one, perhaps, but there it is. The band’s orchestration of “Stardust” is very good, but even so, I tend to skip that track when listening.
Apart from that, it is excellent, and mostly original, big band swing. Of which there is vanishingly little in the Creative Commons, so it’s nice that this one, at the least, is so very good.
Download Live at Blues Alley free from the Free Music Archive, or get just the public domain tracks from the U.S. Army Blues site itself.
You can also find pictures taken at the event on the US Army Band’s Flickr account.
To the extent possible under law, U.S. Army Blues has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Live at Blues Alley.
The tracks that are not public domain are “Main Stem”, composed by Duke Ellington, “Stardust”, composed by Hoagy Carmichael, and “Barbra”, composed by Horace Silver. Those tracks are probably best treated as if they were CC BY-NC-ND licensed.