Back in the 1990s, it was not uncommon for many cities to have their own neighborhood swing orchestra, playing the hits of the big band era for nostalgic audiences. With the inevitable passing of time, the audiences shrunk and virtually all of the veterans of the swing era have passed away. But fortunately, a few of these local big bands still exist even in 2022.
Drummer Kristin Anderson-Bohan formed the Crystal Swing Band in 1988, an ensemble that is based in Boulder, Colorado. Surprisingly, Live From The Avalon Ballroom (recorded at two sessions in 2016-17 and first released in 2020) is their first recording although a smaller combo taken from the big band had made a previous CD. The full 13-piece unit performs hits of the swing era along with three more recent pieces that easily fit in: “I’ve Never Been In Love Again,” “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” and “L-O-V-E.”
The band’s strengths are its ensembles and its spirit. The soloists are decent with trumpeter Chaz Bowles (who also has five friendly vocals) taking honors, but it is the sound of the full group and their joy at playing this vintage music that is most memorable. The results are fun and always quite danceable including versions of “Two O’Clock Jump,” “Leap Frog,” “720 In The Books,” “Intermission Riff,” and “Moonglow.” This would be an enjoyable band to see live.
Since 1975 Scott Yanow has been a regular reviewer of albums in many jazz styles. He has written for many jazz and arts magazines, including JazzTimes, Jazziz, Down Beat, Cadence, CODA, and the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, and was the jazz editor for Record Review. He has written an in-depth biography on Dizzy Gillespie for AllMusic.com. He has authored 11 books on jazz, over 900 liner notes for CDs and over 20,000 reviews of jazz recordings.
Yanow was a contributor to and co-editor of the third edition of the All Music Guide to Jazz. He continues to write for Downbeat, Jazziz, the Los Angeles Jazz Scene, the Jazz Rag, the New York City Jazz Record and other publications.