by Nolan DeBuke
Citizens! The pride of Central Florida is at it again with The Bat Swings! A wonderfully conceived album with the show’s incidental music composed by Nelson Riddle for the classic 60’s series revived in a revved-up fashion by the swingingest big band worthy of Gotham City pride.
The big band is made up of Ryan Waszmer on guitar, Luther Burke on bass, Mudel Honore on piano and organ, Gus D’Angelo on drums, Courtland Beyer on trumpet, Taylor Grubbs on trumpet, Aidan Lakshman on trumpet, Marco Rivera on trumpet, Matt Kerr on trombone, Christian Herrera on trombone, Brian Morris on trombone, Juwan Murphy on trombone, Saul Dautch on baritone saxophone, Andy Garcia on tenor saxophone, Dylan Hannan on tenor saxophone, Kristian Rey on alto saxophone and flute, and Dylan Young on alto saxophone. Special guests include: Justin Diaz, trumpet; Richard Drexler, Hammond organ; Jeff Moore, bongos: Marty Morell on vibes.
Michael Philip Mossman arranged “Batmobile to Airport,” it is the catapulting piece to the kick off of the album, with cameos of the “Batman Theme” written by Neal Hefti sprinkled in, the dynamic duo is well represented. The band is tight, and the horn hits snap and are on point. The group is well-oiled, with a tenor saxophone solo by Dylan Hannan that is robust and warm, while baritone saxist Saul Dautch, lays down a meaty solo bursting with pizzazz. Marty Morell lends his vibraphone skills to the track punctuating and colorizing the cut with a trademark tremolo effect.
A brilliant idea between tracks used as an interlude to refresh your palette are labeled “Bat-Spin,” each has a variance of its own, and adds to the continuity of the project. As a fan of the show myself, these types of interludes were used to move from one scene to the next as the caped crusaders were off to the Batmobile. “Batman Riddles The Riddler,” is arranged by Mark Taylor and has an inspired guitar solo by Ryan Waszmer and a kicking solo by low brassman Christian Herrera. On congas is Marty Morell and my friends, this man has soul for days in his rhythmic hands.
“Kitka” Is taken from the 1966 Batman Movie. Miss Kitka, a news journalist for the Moscow Bugle (secretly Catwoman in disguise) appears in a failed attempt to make Batman take off his cowl as-well as mock the vigilantes, Kitka leaves and reports back to her villain comrades as Catwoman at the lair confirming Batman survived the exploding shark attempt on his life. Befittingly “Kitka” has an air of intrigue that succumbs to the salacious sexuality of the character Catwoman. With a slow downtempo swing set with muted horn frailties and romantic harmonies the tune sets the mood for romance and intrigue.
“Amazing Grace” is subtitled “For Ira Sullivan,” not necessarily a tune associated with the bat duo, but more so in tribute to the bands recently featured appearance with the band by luminary Ira Sullivan as a guest artist. Ira is known for associations with Charlie Parker and Art Blakey and ends all of his shows with this hymn. Maybe Batman could use a bit of this invincible grace. Either way, it’s a beautifully performed track and once again guitarist, Ryan Waszmer is soulful and stirring.
This entire project is done under the guidance of jazz studies director Jeff Rupert, truly the caped crusader behind the scenes directing this big band of phenomenal students and imparting the idea that music is meant to be enjoyed and played with passion. Kapow, it’s just like that!