For our press kit and offical band bio please see the press page.
Here's what people have
been saying about the Campus Five....
Reviews of "Crazy Rhythm" (Released June 2004)
Reviews of "Crazy Rhythm" (Released June 2004)
Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five bring back the sound of early 1940s riff-filled
small-group swing. At times the band sounds close to the Benny Goodman Sextet/Septet
with Stout emulating Charlie Christian a bit, trumpeter Jim Ziegler hinting
at Cootie Williams and tenor-saxophonist Albert Alva sounding close to Georgie
Auld. However although the group performs vintage songs, they are not a mere
copy of the past nor do they stick to one musical role model. Stout also reminds
one in places of Tiny Grimes and George Van Eps, Alva (who doubles on clarinet)
romps on Illinois Jacquet solos and Ziegler is obviously familiar with the
other swing era trumpeters. The group also includes the excellent pianist
Christopher Dawson (who can sound like Jess Stacy and Teddy Wilson), bassist
Jim Garafolo and drummer Josh "Kid" Collazo who are steady and swinging
in support of the lead voices. In addition, Hilary Alexander contributes cool-toned
vocals a la Peggy Lee and Anita O'Day, usually doing her interpretations of
big band hits.
The Campus Five's first CD, Jammin' The Blues (from Jan. 2003), is out-of-print at the moment but hopefully will return. It includes such hot standards as "Seven Come Eleven," "Lester Leaps In," "Stuffy," "Flying Home" and "Cotton Tail" plus some superior obscurities including Ellis Larkins' "Oomph Fa Fa," "Lester's Bebop Boogie," "Swingin' On Nothing" and Pete Johnson's "Half Tight Boogie." Crazy Rhythm was recorded in early 2004 and has 21 concise performances. Highlights include "Mop Mop," "Jacquet In The Box," "Comes Love," Cootie Williams' "Gotta Do Some War Work," "Savoy Blip," "Six Appeal" and "Sir Charles Boogie." None of the songs are throwaways and each have their heated moments.
For more information about these fun recordings and the band, check out www.campusfive.com.
Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene, October 2004
***** (Five Stars) - The
40's comes to CD
Reviewer: Shayne White (taken from cdbaby.com)
"If CD players had been around back in the 40's, then this CD would be exactly what would be selling then. Even the name of their band -- Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five, Featuring Hillary Alexander -- is completely authentic, as most swing bands seemed to name their groups in that manner. It doesn't get better than this. The recording is excellent -- they even use vintage mics -- and they have a really tight sound, extremely professional. Hillary's vocals are great -- she has a slightly husky voice, but of course that's the style, and it definitely isn't TOO husky at all like a lot of people's voices are. Her pitch is right on and she has a good tone. I loved the selections on the CD. I knew "Why Don't You Do Right?" from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (which they would probably be horrified to hear), and I knew "Drum Boogie" from "Ball of Fire." Of course there are nineteen other excellent tracks beyond those two which are equally good. You absolutely must buy this CD! You're missing out on a world of fun if you don't!"
Reviews of "Jammin' the Blues" (Released February 2003)
"Campus Five plays swing music,
plain and simple. But let me be clear, this ain't no "jump blues on the
swing tip" perpetrated by a image conscious zoot suit wearing wannabe
who speaks like a Jimmy Cagney-inspired gangster with a phony Brooklyn accent.
This is the real deal - a band carrying on the legacy of the great swing-era
small groups like the Gramercy Five, Kansas City Six and Seven, Benny Goodman's
Sextet among others, essentially Stout has taken inspiration from an older
form of music and reinvigorated it. Like the bands of old, this is a functional,
working unit which plays for dancers and with its smooth sound and fine group
dynamics it's no wonder they play at places like the Satin Ballroom or Hollywood's
art deco mecca, The Argyle Hotel. In listening to this disc, recorded in a
special studio based on the famous studio used by Capital Records which rests
on top of a hollowed out room to create a built-in reverb chamber, I hear
music that is fresh and inviting yet familiar. This is no tired tribute band
or museum piece trying to sound hip, but a group of young musicians enthusiastic
about playing this music and not dissimilar to what one would likely have
heard at any club or dancehall in the mid to late '30's. All the musicians
recorded in the same room, no overdubs. Stout, who studied at USC's Studio/Jazz
Guitar program under Frank Potenza, is a fine soloist and swing-era rhythm
man. When amplified, he coaxes dynamite, (Charlie) Christian-approved tone
from an Ibanez hollow-body and a Peavey Classic 30 amp which yields that classic
sound like best mid '30's ES-250 and matching amp. His acoustic swinging comes
from a reissue Gretsch Synchromatic which with a tight, focused punch reminiscent
of a mid 1930's L5. That's right folks, not one piece of vintage gear, just
a working mans rig that that gets the requisite sound without the hassle and
price of vintage or boutique equipment. His chordal and single line solos
are swinging and era approved but loose and original - traditional, yet not
a parody. The elegant vocals of Hilary Alexander are simply the icing on the
cake. 21 tunes - "Seven Come Eleven", "Mister 5x5", "Cottontail",
"Jammin' The Blues", "Lester Leaps In", "Shoe Fly
Pie", "Benny's Bugle" and 14 other swing era gems that haven't
sounded this good since the height of the big band era. Fans of the Golden
Age of Jazz will want to check this out. Highly Recommended!"
Ted Gottsegen, Just Jazz Guitar Magazine, Feb. 2004
***** (five stars) - One
of my favorite albums ever!!!!
Reviewer: Shayne White (taken from cdbaby.com)
"These people are incredible! I grew up watching Fred 'n' Ginger musicals and loved the old swing that was alive everywhere. These people are the real thing! They're fantastic musicians and sound just like the old masters back in the 40's. The recording quality is also really good. I cannot recommend this album highly enough. There are a lot of great old songs and tunes here that are some of the most fun music you could find anywhere. Their second album is awesome, too. If they ever do a Northern California tour, I'll go!!"
**** (fours stars) - This
is a really cool CD.
Reviewer: Eric Abell (taken from cdbaby.com)
"I am a dancer. I love to LindyHop, Swing, Balboa, whatever... When I was in Houston for the Great Southwest LindyFest, one of the songs from this CD was played in the workshops. I loved it! I bought the CD and all of the tracks are very danceable. Anyone who likes Savoy-style or hollywood style will love dancing to this CD. Its just fun to listen to! I can't wait for another release from this artist."
***** (five stars) - Buy
this CD Buy this CD BUY THIS CD NOW!!!!!!
Reviewer: Madora Kibbe (taken from cdbaby.com)
"This is one of the best classic swing jazz albums of this or any time. The charts are the originals but sound as fresh as an ocean breeze. Hilary Alexander stands toe to toe with Diana Krall, Anita O'Day, any other great jazz vocalist you can think of, and knocks their ankle socks off! All the musicians are outstanding. A must have CD."
"In the present day Jazz has
become a word that can encompass a wide variety of musical styles. The presence
of “smooth Jazz” stations on the radio dial has further diluted
the term. Free Jazz, Classic Jazz, Soul Jazz, Mainstream Jazz, Progressive
Jazz have been all phrases to define one particular style from another. Likewise
the term “Swing” is an often-debated word with many clinging to
the idea that anything recorded after say 1945 is not worthy of such a title.
Modern Swing with so many quasi-rock and R&B bands laying claim to that
categorization has become almost a “ditzy” word in some circles,
frowned upon by many as “kid,” “fad,” or “dancer”
music and used by a large percent of the populace to classify wannabe garage
rock bands who added a few horns to capitalize on the “fad.”
Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five are one of those few bands on the scene today that may proudly wear a medallion that says, “Real Jazz.” Their debut release aptly titled “Jammin' The Blues” does just that from start to finish. Although all but one of the tunes on their release is a cover tune, they are covers of great Classic Jazz and Swing era songs. Furthermore they are all done at tempos not only easy for this band to get into a solid groove on, but easy for listeners to sachet through with a pop of the fingers or a pat of the foot. For those of the persuasion to want to grab a partner and Lindy till they drop this CD could remain on the CD player alone all night and never get old.
From the very first tune on the release one is smitten with the band’s infectious rhythm and tasteful, well-played, and emotional solos. It doesn’t hurt that it just happens to be a classic Benny Goodman Sextet riff tune opening the CD co-written by the great Charlie Christian. The band never losses a beat the whole way through with three Lester Young tunes and Stout’s guitar work throughout is as tasteful as it gets. The tune Stuffy done originally with a Coleman Hawkins group and featuring the great Allan Reuss is a pleasant surprise and very well played. While Stout's guitar work is a high point so is the playing of the rhythm section driving the band consisting of Christopher Dawson on piano, Jim Garafolo on bass, and Josh Collazo on drums. While these aforementioned modern day hep-cats could make more music than most bands trying to play this style of Jazz today it is an added bonus and pleasant surprise to hear crisp clean trumpet work and most of all in tune and on key solos handled expertly by Jim Ziegler. Just when you think it couldn’t get any better you are whisked into another dimension with the tenor work of Albert Alva sounding at times like Georgie Auld and Chu Berry all rolled up in one pack of dynamite. His clarinet riffs also far exceeded anything this listener and Jazz lover has heard or expected to hear in a small group setting in the year 2003. Finally and certainly not lastly are the superb vocals of Hilary Alexander. What a find is this canary! Female vocalists trying to sing Jazz with an operatic approach has almost become commonplace aside from a handful of blues influenced singers like Lavay Smith, Katherine Whalen and Carmen Gettit. Hilary Alexander stands right up there with the best of them. She Swings, she’s on key, she’s on time and she sings with feeling. You get the idea this chirp isn’t just mouthing words on a piece of paper sung by someone else 50 years ago, she’s living and owning her vocals on this release.
The bottom line is if you like listening to vintage Jazz and Swing music and can appreciate well-timed and placed solo work you will love this CD. And if you’re a dancer and can’t find the rhythm or tempo in this CD…. get a new instructor…or switch to Salsa."
- Jeff Parker has hosted Parker’s Place a four-hour weekly Swing music radio broadcast since 1987 and currently airs Saturday’s on KAAT-FM in Central California.
"At Camp Hollywood, last year,
I got a glimpse of a band that I had been looking forward to hearing, and
music that I was ecstatic to hear live. Jonathan Stout had promised to put
together a band (The Campus Five) that dancers were sure to love, but wouldn’t
play the same old standards every other band has played time and time again.
I stayed up past 2:00am just to get this glimpse, and indeed I was not disappointed.
It was everything I had expected and more.
When news of an album started spreading, the anticipation renewed, and I begged Jonathan for a sneak preview of the album ("Jammin' the Blues"), and again I was not disappointed.
Jonathan and the gang put together a selection of great songs, some recognizable by most dancers and swing nuts, and others that had sorely deserved to be listened to again… but all great tunes! The group is best when it captures the small combo setting that Benny Goodman, and Django Reinhardt did so well.
You can tell this group works well together, and loves the music they do. On straight ahead swingers like “Flyin’ Home”, “Cottontail”, and “Swingin’ On Nothin’”, you’ll get to hear fresh, clean versions recreated with talent, skill, and heart. Hilary Alexander lends her voice to a few well known favorites, such as “Down the Road Apiece” and “Shoo Fly Pie”. She compliments the band wonderfully.
Even better are the tunes that Benny Goodman’s small groups made famous, such as “Seven Come Eleven” and “Grand Slam”. I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear such well done versions of these tunes. The best, in my opinion, is “Minor Swing”... Not only does the Campus Five beautifully and faithfully recreate the song, but Jonathan himself shows his skill and love for the music with his guitar. It takes guts to perform a Django Reinhardt tune, and thankfully The Campus Five are more than up to the task. This group is full of top notch musicians.
The production of this CD is near perfect. The group stayed faithful to the style: the mix of the CD is great! I hear so many good songs these days ruined by over-engineering the sound, but the Campus Five does a superb job at being true to the music and style. Creating great sounding studio work that matches their live performances.
In a small world of Swing dominated by a few Big Bands, and small groups playing the same old standards, the Campus Five are a welcome change and compliment to the other groups out there. With this CD, the Campus Five have given us some great Jazz, Swing and Dance tunes that we might not otherwise get to hear, apart from the originals."
- Jesse Gearhart (Dancer, DJ, and host of "Swing Cat's Ball" on KCBX FM90).