Mike Berkowitz and the New Gene Krupa Orchestra
Drummer/conductor extraordinaire Mike Berkowitz has played with and conducted for just about everyone in the business, from Liza Minnelli and Billy Joel to Elton John and Bette Midler. Fortunately for us and for the music industry in general, Berkowitz has turned his attention to the music of Gene Krupa via his New Gene Krupa Orchestra in recent seasons, and has deservedly garnered rave reviews worldwide. We've heard just about every Krupa tribute band that has existed since Gene's death in 1973. Without a doubt, this is the finest on many, many levels. Orchestrally, it is superb, and the charts--whether original Krupa transcriptions, updates, or Quincy Jones' semi-modern re-creations--are played crisply, intelligently, sincerely and with a wonderful sense of swing. The soloists--Mike Tomaro on tenor sax, Steve Hawk on lead and jazz trumpet, and Matt Neiss on trombone--are wonderful and are playing very, very much today. Vocalist Annette Sanders is great, contemporary, and imitates no one. Leader and drummer Berkowitz references Gene. After all, all or most of these tunes virtually require some Krupa licks. But this is not an imitation in any sense of the word. His drumming is very much in line with the great big band players in history, such as Sonny Payne, Butch Miles, Sam Woodyard, Jake Hanna and the rest of the gang. This is the first time I think I'm able to say that Gene would be really happy about this. For more information on Michael Berkowitz and the band, log on to www.BerkMusic.com

In the near future, this will be a Sea Breeze Records release, but it's so great, we wanted to offer it to you first. Songs: Starburst/Leave Us Leap, Wire Brush Stomp, Tuxedo Junction, Massachusetts, That's What You Think, Rockin' Chair, That Drummer's Band, Stompin' At The Savoy (quartet), Gene's Boogie, Thinking of Gene (a great original that sounds as if Thad Jones or Neil Hefti lent an arranging hand), Opus One, Boogie Blues, and Lover. To conclude: When Mike beats the skin, turns on the grin, everybody's knockin.

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