The Abletones Live
Picture this: You’re eating dinner in a crowded ballroom surrounded by couples all dressed to the
nines. The stage is set. Big Band stand fronts, vintage instruments and derby mutes line the back
row. The lights come up, and eighteen musicians, clad in matching tuxedos, blue vests and
pocket squares enter from the wings, their highly polished shoes shining as they take the stage.
The bandleader, in his white dinner jacket and spats counts off the first number as the vocalist in
her shimmering ball gown appears just in time for her entrance. I’m sure you’re picturing a
nightclub or a dance hall circa 1939–but no. It’s a wintry evening in 2018 at Mechanics Hall in
Worcester, MA and Dan Gabel and The Abletones are doing what they do best – transporting
their audience back in time with the sights and sounds of the Big Band era.
In mid-January (2018) we had a busy week playing a series of one-nighters from Boston to Long
Island. Our last gig of the week was at Mechanics Hall in Worcester for their annual Winter
Soiree. Everything seemed to come together perfectly: the band was hot, the hall was aglow, and
the dance floor was packed all night. Fortunately for us, Hannah Truckenbrod joined us for this
show. Fortunately for you, this memorable evening was recorded!
I am thrilled to present this album of live recordings. No edits were made, nor any post-
production processing used. What you hear on the record is what we performed that night thanks
to the expertise of recording engineer Mr. Joe Chilorio. So, sit back, relax, or jump up and dance
to: The Abletones Live!
Whispering is our theme tune, and we play it to open every show. This 1920 classic has
long been one of my favorite tunes, and all of my various groups use it as the theme song. We
swing this one in the Abletones style, and we’re off…
Tommy Dorsey is my musical hero, and the reason I play the trombone. Rimsky-
Korsakov’s Song of India was composed in 1896 from his opera Sadko. Dorsey, ever the
entrepreneur, started a practice of “swinging the classics” and scored a #1 hit in 1937 with this
clever arrangement. TD played the theme in one breath, and trumpeter Bunny Berigan
improvised a legendary solo, recreated here by our trumpet section. Note Jim’s exotic tom-tom
rhythms and exciting kicks under the trumpets.
For a bit of Americana, we present Swanee River. Published in 1851, Stephen Foster’s
melody has become a standard. However, Sy Oliver’s incredibly swinging arrangement for
Tommy Dorsey helped to secure the enduring popularity of this song. Alex Olsen is featured on
piano, I give you my best Dorsey, followed by Mike Peipman on trumpet, Hunter Smith on tenor,
and Jim Gancarz drives the rhythm home.
Almost Like Being in Love (from the musical Brigadoon) is a perfect opening to
showcase our guest vocalist, Ms. Hannah Truckenbrod. As of this writing, Hannah is the vocalist
with The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra. Joel Linscheid and I are alumni of the Miller
band, and it is fitting to include a set of Glenn Miller tunes. One of the best of the Miller ballads
is I Know Why (And So Do You), featured in the 1941 film Sun Valley Serenade. Jerry Gray’s
Sun Valley Jump was unceremoniously cut from the film, but we rescued this fine arrangement
for swing fans everywhere.
Certainly Artie Shaw has gone down in history as one of the great clarinet players of all
time, but his compositions are less known. Moon Ray is one of the originals he wrote for his
Boston band in 1937. Hannah supplies the lyrics, and Bruce Krasin plays the haunting clarinet
melody. Adam “Hot Lips” Mejaour takes the exciting trumpet break.
First recorded on our Homesick for New England (2013) album, our latest take on the
lovely Moonlight in Vermont is a spotlight for David Jost’s baritone sax and Hannah’s lovely
vocal interpretation. Note Alex Olsen’s piano fills on the incredible Mechanics Hall 12-foot
Steinway, while our clarinets provide the “warbling of the meadowlark.”
Our band plays for dances frequently, and the Hot-Cha Cha-Cha is always a fan
favorite. “Hot Lips” has the lead and solo honors, and Jim’s cowbells (yes, two of them!) make
everyone want to dance.
At every show, we always dedicate one number to our veterans. Big Band music was so
important to the morale of our troops during WWII, and continues to have a large impact today.
We honor those who served with Glenn Miller’s American Patrol, another Jerry Gray
arrangement of an 1885 march by Franklin W. Meacham.
One of the greatest contributions to the Great American Songbook has to be Jerome
Kern’s All the Things You Are. Artie Shaw’s arrangement showcases Kern’s melody so well.
Bruce Krasin swings beautifully, acknowledging Shaw’s influence, but in his own style.
Hannah’s silky smooth vocals bring the timeless lyrics to life.
Legendary pianist/singer Nat “King” Cole had several hits that his daughter Natalie also
recorded with great success. Mike Peipman plays the inspiring trumpet solo on Bill Holman’s
arrangement of L-O-V-E.
Gene Krupa, the father of the drum set, had a knack for re-working big band tunes in his
own style. Many bands played Erskine Hawkins’ Tuxedo Junction, but I have always enjoyed
Remo Biondi’s arrangement best. Finally, we hear some fine guitar solo work by Bill Doyle
(Biondi was Krupa’s guitarist, and these guitar fills are some of the earliest examples of big band
guitar solos). The entire trumpet section plays Odell “Dud” Bascomb’s famous 1941 trumpet
solo, lead by Dan “Snow” Fleury; Hunter Smith plays the melodic tenor solo.
There’ll Be Some Change
Boy In The Boat
Alexanders Rag Time Band
Wa Wa Wa
Because my Baby Don’t Mean maybe now
What Is this thing called love
Puttin on the Ritz
Business in F