Former Count Basie Orchestra vocalist Jamie Davis brought together some very talented friends and a bag full of jazz, soul and pop standards to put together the big band album It's A Good Thing on his own Unity Records. And while popular artists from Rod Stewart to Gladys Knight are pumping out albums of a similar nature, Davis's pedigree and voice as well as the cast of accompanying players move It's A Good Thing light years ahead of the others and make it one of the most truly enjoyable albums of the year. The band (including many members of the Basie Orchestra), which came together and played "live" for two days with producer Greg Errico and conductor Shelly Berg, sounds terrific, making oft-recorded tracks like "My Funny Valentine" and "I've Got the World On A String" sound fresh, and giving new flavor to more recent vintage compositions such as "Isn't She Lovely" and "Another Star." And Davis's rich, deep baritone, which falls somewhere near Arthur Prysock but with the phrasing of Joe Williams, is simply the perfect match for the music.
The most earth-shattering about It's A Good Thing is that such a collection of talent actually came together for an independent project. That alone would make the project notable. The bonus is that the disc is simply a joy from front to back: For older soul and jazz fans its a reminder about what what made the best big band music so special, and for younger listeners accustomed to the programming that dominates modern radio, its an education about what real orchestration and arrangements can mean to music. Highly recommended.