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Review by Brad Green:
The irony here is that the story is all about a man with amnesia, and the feeling is all about nostalgia. In my eternal ignorance I’ve never heard of The Spencer Wyatt Big Band but they tinkle the ivories and blow their horns fabulously through such golden standards as Cole Porter’s Begin The Beguine and James P. Johnson’s Blue Note Boogie. 

Joining Spencer Wyatt’s troops on this collection of old time treats are a couple of classics from the Nat King Cole oeuvre and some newer recordings from LA keyboardist Jim Cox. He’s a session player with a grand piano full of credits on rock on pop albums from Aerosmith to Air Supply, but here he gets up close and personal with the ivories and the audience. A couple of brisk and unaccompanied boogie woogie numbers show off his talented tinkling and are heaps of fun, however it is the delicately paced Aunt Hagar’s Blues that reaches out, grabs our ears and informs us of this talented musicians tasteful touch. 

No compilation of this type could be complete, of course, without a rendition of Over The Rainbow. It’s one of those melodies that have their magnificence exemplified by their magnetism to jazz players. Here the wonderful Chet Baker, Mr West Coast Cool himself, is heard doing for Harold Arlen’s classic what John Coltrane did for The Sound Of Music’s A Few Of My Favourite Things. Hearing great melodists like Rogers and Arlen reinterpreted by jazz virtuosos reminds me why great music and ultimate beauty are inseparably synonymous. 

This is the sort of compilation that gives history a face, right down to the smoky jazz lounges and small town theatres. Of course, nostalgia and romanticism walk hand in hand into the night, and the CD concludes suitably enough with three cues from Mark Isham’s score. The first of these, The Bridge, contains the only moment of dark drama on the disc, but we soon cross over into string-rich, heartfelt territory. 

Compilations like this make a trip down memory lane seem so much more inviting than your average cliché. We all need a break from the new, bold and innovative every now and again, and this unashamedly sentimental soundtrack is an absolute joy.

Published May 16, 2002

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TITLE: The Majestic
ID: 397603 348426
ARTISTS: The Spencer Wyatt Big Band; Nat King Cole; Jim Cox; The Mills Brothers; Chet Baker; Mark Isham 

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