Western Swing Monthly -Mike Gross, WVOF-FM
Album: Swingin' Big
Artist: Tony Harrison & Hot Texas
This is a new CD of 12 awesome cuts by a Texas band that is a combination of big band and Western Swing instrumentation with Tony Harrison in the vocal Spotlight. The band sound is reminiscent of Bob Wills' big World War II vintage band.
The album features many super musicians, not all on every tune. They include magnificent steel guitarists Herb Steiner and Dave Biller along with super standard guitarists Redd Volkaert, Rick McRae and Glen Rexach. The hot fiddle player is Jon Kemppainen and the trumpets heard are Eric Johnson and Marcus Graf. The wonderful and very tight rhythm section of the band is Karen Biller-drums and Alex Dormont-bass. Scott Benner plays sax and flute and Steven Vague plays tenor sax. The additional musicians for the album are Selena Rosanbalm- vocals and Rey Arteaga- percussion.
The album opens with the first of eight pop standards, the Bobby Troup composition, Route 66. Other pop favorites include the Perry Como 1950s hit Papa Loves Mambo, the Nat King Cole hit L.O.V.E., Mack the Knife from Bobby Darrin and the Sinatra classic Come Fly With Me. Also from the pop world is More, Beyond the Sea and Almost Like Being in Love. Tony, originally from England belts out two Texas classics, Deep in the Heart of Texas, from Gene Autry, Alvino Rey, Bob Wills and so may others over the years and Tommy Camfield and Diane Johnston's Miles and Miles of Texas reintroduced to Western Swing by Asleep at the Wheel in the mid 1970s. You just have to include a song from the late and legendary Mexia, Texas songwriter, Cindy Walker and Tony brings back You Don't Know Me. The final gem is the Johnny Mercer composition that Bing Crosby and the Sons of the Pioneers first did in the 1930s Paramount movie Rhythm on the Range. Of course, we all remember I'm an Old Cowhand.
Mike Gross, WVOF-FM, Fairfield, CT
June 12, 2010