All the Cats Join In

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All the Cats Join In: The Cover

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In 1995, “All The Cats Join In” became the first CD released by the Tom Cunningham Orchestra (following the vinyl-only release of “Yes Indeed!”). The cover, drawn by Prentis Rollins, tries to capture the feel of the music and impart the same urge to dance that everyone feels when the Orchestra performs.

Following is the text of the liner notes. Click on any image for a larger version.
In their heyday the top Big Bands each had a distinctive sound that often grew out of the personality of their leader. Think of the silken energy of the Ellington ensemble; or the wailing, frenetic sound of Benny Goodman. The Tom Cunningham Orchestra is built, quite literally, around Tom and his mightily swingin’ trumpet. From his big band battles to live radio remotes to ballrooms packed with jitterbugs, Tom and his band consider themselves inheritors of a living, vibrant tradition.

This collection is arranged as though the band were playing a set at a swing dance. Tom blows the first note, and there’s no way to resist: ALL YOU CATS & KITTENS — JOIN RIGHT IN. (Written by Steve Mencher)

Tom knows this music and its stories as well as anyone. He takes great pride in his repertoire, and is fanatic about capturing the style and spirit of his material, not just the notes. He’ll be your guide as you listen through this disk.

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Legend:

BS = Brent Sessions, Sax
CK = Chris Kosky, Bass
CR = Chuck Redd, Vibes
DL = Don Lerman, Sax
EC = Ed Crow, Drums
ES = Ed Scott, Sax
HR = Harold Rhoads, ‘Bone
JH = Julian Hipkins, Vocals
JO = Jerry O’Sullivan, ‘Bone
JS = Jeff Seffens, Trumpet
KH = Keith Hoodock, Clarinet
PP = Paul Pieper, Guitar
RC = Robin Cunningham, Vocals
RH = Rob Holmes, Sax
RPM = RPM Trio, Vocals
RS = Ron Smith, ‘Bone
SF = Scott Fridy, ‘Bone
SR = Serge Romanchak, Piano
TC = Tom Cunningham, Trumpet
TG = Tom Greco, Sax

“‘ALL THE CATS JOIN IN was first heard in a Disney cartoon feature named “Make Mine Music.” Robin remembered, from her childhood days, what a great title tune this would make. Don put it together for us.”
Original artists: Benny Goodman 1944, Buck Clayton 1956.
Solos: TC RC BS JO TC RH CR SR

“Julian’s uninhibited rendition of SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDL recalls both Joe Williams with Basie’s band and Ray Charles. Lyrically, this has got to be the ultimate party tune.” Original artists: Count Basie 1957, Ray Charles 1964.
Solos: JH PP

“‘DRUM BOOGIE is a great example of the boogie-woogie craze of the ’40s. As the granddaddy of rock & roll, boogie has given us a great in with folks who’ve grown up on rock. We’re lucky to have a guy who can really play that piano style – Serge.”
Original artist: Gene Krupa 1941.
Solos: RC DL TC JS EC

“‘EARLY AUTUMN was the hit that put Stan Getz on the map with Woody’s Second Herd. As far as I’m concerned, it could just as easily have been Don. I’ve heard him play this song dozens of times, never the same way twice, and he always knocks me out.”
Original artist: Woody Herman 1948.
Solos: ES CR DL

“Hearing Robin and me doing LET ME OFF UPTOWN, it’s funny to think about (trumpeter) Roy Eldridge performing it with Anita O’Day. They really didn’t like each other much and when they did the patter, they’d try to trip each other up. It’s a lot more fun to pull off when the singer’s your sweetheart!”
Original artist: Gene Krupa 1941.
Solos: RC TC

“‘EIGHT BROTHERS is a Don Lerman original — the only original on this disc. He really did grow up with eight brothers in South Bend. Here they’re portrayed by four of our saxophonists – Brent, Don, Tom and Rob — in that order.”
Original artist: Tom Cunningham 1995.
Solos: BS DL TG RH

“The RPM Trio was a part of us for 11 great years, so I was really thrilled to welcome Patti & Marty back to sing this Sy Oliver treatment of ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET.”
Original artist: Tommy Dorsey 1944.
Solos: CK TC RPM

“Basie’s group from the late ’30s is one of the real “go to the mountain” kind of bands for us. Basie fit right in with the Kansas City of that era — unrestrained, raw, unfettered by commercial constraints.’SWINGIN’ THE BLUES has a taste for all of that in it.”
Original artist: Count Basie 1938.
Solos: SR RS BS JO RH TC EC

“Billy Byers arranged ALL OF ME for Basie in ’63 — we just added Julian’s vocalizing. It’s interesting to hear how Count’s sound changed from his rough & tumble, soloist-centered ’30s band to his polished ’50s and ’60s swing machine. Some Basie fans prefer one, others swear by the other. We love ’em both.”
Original artist: Count Basie 1963.
Solo: SR

“Bill Basie was born in Red Bank, New Jersey — thus the title RED BANK BOOGIE.  It serves to show that he could say more than just ‘plink-plank-plunk’ on the keys.”
Original Artist: Count Basie 1944.
Solos: SR RS BS JO RH TC EC

“‘WHY DON’T YOU DO RIGHT? launched Peggy Lee’s career — it was perfect for her emotionally detached, cool sound and deadpan delivery. Robin spells it out anew as I try to argue my case with a plunger mute, but I finally give way, and another trumpeter (Jeff) gets the last laugh.”
Original artist: Benny Goodman 1942.
Solos: KH RH TC JS

“‘SHORTY GEORGE has been identified as either the Harlem hoofer who originated the self-named dance step, or, in Jon Hendricks’ marvelous lyric, a musician’s biggest domestic worry when he’s out on the road. The original Andy Gibson instrumental was recorded by Basie.”
Original artist: Count Basie 1938.
Solos: TC RH SR SF

“‘I’VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU” was a Ray Charles hit. What separates our version is Paul Pieper’s guitar work, which fills in for the original organ by Ray.”
Original artist: Ray Charles 1961
Solos: JH PP

“We feature Paul again on SOLO FLIGHT, originally written to showcase Charlie Christian, the first great electric guitarist, as a member of Benny Goodman’s band.”
Original artist: Benny Goodman 1941
Solos: PP KH

“Billy Strayhorn was Duke’s alter ego — it’s virtually impossible to tell where one’s writing begins and the other’s leaves off. On JOHNNY COME LATELY, Billy did the score and the piano playing. We feel that writing like this is still ahead of its time. Also, dig how Jerry makes his trombone ‘talk’ with that plunger mute.”  Original artist: Duke Ellington 1942
Solos: HR JO SR

“We wrap things up with another Basie number, THE KING.  The way this tune builds, with riff piling on riff, while Brent and Rob try to top each other on the tenors . . . We’ve tried to keep that bit of theatrics, climaxing in one great commotion at the end.”  Original artist: Count Basie 1946.
Solos: TC SR BS RH BS/RH

“. . . Cunningham’s orchestra is riding a crescendo of popularity as the most exciting musical format ever invented, the Big Band, makes a comback . . .” So. . POP this disc on your old Victrola. . . PULL on your dancing shoes. . . and GET READY to get your bobby sox knocked off when TOM CUNNINGHAM AND THE ORCHESTRA let loose and. . . ALL THE CATS JOIN IN.

The Band

Brass:
Trumpet: Rob Jernigan
Trumpet: Jeff Seffens
Trumpet: Dave Carlson
Trumpet: Tom Cunningham
Trombone: Ron Smith
Trombone: Harold Rhoads
Trombone: Scott Fridy
Trombone: Jerry O’Sullivan

Saxes:
Alto, Tenor: Don Lerman
Alto, Clarinet: Ed Scott
Tenor: Brent Sessions
Tenor: Rob Holmes
Baritone: Tom Greco
Clarinet: Kieth Hoodock

Rhythm:
Drums: Ed Crow
Bass: Chris Kosky
Vibes: Chuck Redd
Piano: Serge Romanchak
Guitar: Paul Pieper

Singers:
Julian Hipkins
Robin Cunningham
The RPM Trio:
Robin
Patti Elmore
Marty Bjarnason

Production:
Recorded February 11-12, 1995, at Big Mo Studios, Kensington, Maruland
Executive Producer: Dave Carlson for Eagle Records
Producer and Director: Tom Cunningham
Chief Engineer: John Tyler
Graphic Design: Hennessey Sternberg Visual Communications
Original Cover Art: Prentis Rollins
Photography: E. Price Egan
Special thanks to: Ron, Kevin, and Greg at Big Mo, and to Bruce Talbot, James Peachey, and David Baird