April 23, 2000
The News & Observer
Raleigh, North Carolina
WHEN YOUNG WAS OLD
By Owen Cordle; Correspondent
BIG BAND SWING
Thirtysomething singer and pianist Robert Hicks and veteran West Coast arranger Pete Rugolo team up on “Textures in Hi-Fi” (Velocity/Alternator), a sparkling big band date reminiscent of the ‘50s. Rugolo, best known for his arrangements for the Stan Kenton
Orchestra in the late ‘40s (he was later the music director at Capitol Records and a composer and arranger for television and movies), leads a brassy, swinging big band behind the Chet Baker-and Mel Torme-influenced vocalist.
When the mood’s cool (for example, the Rugolo-Bobby Troup tune “Out Of The Shadows”). It’s stylish, sexy and vaguely noir-ish. When it’s hot (“Bongo Fever” and “Firebird Jumps”), it’s dramatic, Kentonesque and charged. The band is full of well-known West Coast studio musicians (such as Pete and Conte Candoli and drummer Chuck Flores), and the recording quality is excellent.
Hicks captures the spirit and sound of the era without
posturing (or posing as the Rugolo/Kenton/West Coast answer to Harry Connick
Jr.). He swings both vocally and instrumentally.
Robert Hicks and Pete Rugolo, “Textures in Hi-Fi”***