REUNION DAYS | This past year we went back into Buckeye Studio and began to record tracks for Reunion Days. Several months later, The Hoppin’ John Orchestra is pleased to announce the release of our new CD! A much anticipated second effort from HJO, “Reunion Days” features all of our regulars, along with some very special guests.


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What’s on Reunion Days?

1   King Cake (break me off a piece of that): (#40) A brass band style tune celebrating that tasty Mardis Gras treat, King Cake!  I wrote this one for Carnival time 2010.  Feiry solos by Matt Cappy, Trumpet, Tony Gairo, Alto Saxophone and Ron Bodanza, Piano.

2   Fizz: (#239) The northern California band, Mumbo Gumbo is one of my most favorite talents deserving wider recognition. All of their records are fantastic and if you like our cover of this clever Chris Webster tune, be sure to check them out!  The fantastic Chelsea Dehener sings this one and Tony once again throws down on the Alto.  That’s Jay Krush, Dean of Philadlephia Tuba players cleaning up the bottom here.

3   El Sueño: (#32) The Dream.  The music for this latin number was written way back in 1998 and languished without a suitable lyric that is until the lovely and talented Kim Alexander attended a beautiful show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  “Visions of Arcadia” was the inspiration for the dream-like words.  We hear Tony here on Flute, Mike Lorenz on classical Guitar and the amazing Lauren Lark on the vocal.

4   Shockout: (#48) Another NOLA brass band style tune but with a twist!  Solos here, by Matt on Trumpet and Ron on Piano lift the 2nd line right out of the parade.

5   I Believe to my Soul: (#46) My arrangement of this Ray Charles classic is acutally an adaptation of another arrangement by Lewis Jones, done only a few years after Brother Ray’s original in.  Lauren Lark makes you believe, Tony weeps on the Alto and Mike Lorenz plays the natural blues on this.

6   From Ab to C: (#111) An amazing proto-bebop tune from Louis Armstrong’s long-time Pianist, fellow Philadelphian, Billy Kyle.  This transcritption is from the incredible John Kirby Sextet in 1939!  To our knowledge, this is the first re-recording of this gem in 75 years.  Here, Matt Cappy plays the Charlie Shavers part, Tony Gairo is Buster Bailey, Lou Fuiano is Russell Procope, Ron Bodanza is Billy Kyle, Mike Hood is John Kirby and Rob Smith is O’Neill Spencer.  It’s harder than it sounds!

7   The Snap: (#2) Swing-Ska was a thing back in 1996 and I wrote this tune for the great and venerable Philadelphia Ska band, Ruder Than You of which I was a member at the time.  To get an idea how seminal this tune is, it bears the number “2” in our books.  Randy Kaprlick tears up the Trombone break on this and once again, Chelsea Dehner tells it like it is!

Hollywood: (#55) Another tune from 1998 languishing until saved by the lyrical muse, Kim Alexander.  A straight up Ska tune with lots of jazz sensibilty.  We hear from Lou on Baritone Saxophone, Matt on Trumpet, Tony on Alto and the great Dave Champion on Trombone. That’s Darren Keith laying down the drums and the great Joe Napoli with the upbeat guitar.

9 Reunion Days: (#72) Written sitting cross-legged on the bed in a cottage at my childhood beach summer 2012.  To relcaim, as an sdult, a space and a place filled with memory and meaning was a powerful and unexpected event.  This is the sound of what it felt like that week.  Lou again on Bari and Mike Hood with the Trombone solo here.

10 The Late, Late Show: (#207) A great little adaptation/arrangement of the Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald classic by the great arranger and transciber, Henry Francis.  Matt and Tony trade amazing ideas and Lauren sings and swings her heart out here!

11 Yesterday’s Icecubes (Are Water Today): (#98) Believe it or not, another 1939 never-recorded-since transcription by the Raymond Scott Quintette.  The only recording of this is from a radio transcription!  We’ve included a re-creation of the orginal announcer’s bumper.  Deceptively difficult as all Raymond Scott tunes, made more so in that all his intricate arrangements were memorized and seldom if ever written down! Matt Trumpet, Tony Clarinet, Lou Tenor Saxophone, Ron Piano, Mike Bass, Rob Drums.  Just like in 1939!

12 Give It Up (Or Let Me Go): (#20) From the virtuostic Bonnie Raitt’s first album in 1973.  Delta Blues meets gutbucket dixieland.  Boy this sure is a fun one to play! As you’ve heard on our first album and certainly on this one, the blues runs deep in all of us and most assuredly informs all my writing. The bluesy Frank Velardo slings the guitar here, Matt solos on Trumpet and Tony takes us out on Clarinet while Chelsea sings the scolding blues.

All arrangements and liner notes by Mike Hood


THE HOPPIN’ JOHN ORCHESTRA | In 2007, we went into Buckeye Recording in South Philly and finally laid down tracks for our first recording. We had been playing together for over 10 years so this was a long time coming. The best part is, we were thrilled with the work of Peter Richan at Buckeye, and we’re very proud of this recording.


What’s on The Hoppin’ John Oechestra?

1 Bayou Biscuit: Our take on a modern New Orleans Brass Band style. An original by Mike Hood. Solo by Matt Cappy, Cornet.

2 I Hear You Knocking: Our cover of that classic Smiley Lewis vehicle from 1954. Vocal by John Conahan and Plunger Trombone solo by Dave Champion.

3 B.B.’s Second Line: Another New Orleans Brass Band style original. Solos by: Brian Cox, Tuba, Dave Champion, Trombone, Lou Fuiano, Baritone Saxophone and Matt Cappy, Trumpet.

4 Nothing Takes the Place of You: A New Orleans R and B classic from 1966 here given the HJO treatment with vocals by Lauren Lark and soulful Tenor Saxophone by Tony Gairo

5 Crash!: Wrote this one when I finally got my car back from the evil banking organ of our fair city; the Parking “Authority”. Solos by: Matt Cappy, Trumpet and Tony Gairo, Tenor Saxophone.

6 Melvin Purvis Gets His Man: This is the tune we think might have been going through Melvin’s head when he finally snagged John Dillinger outside the Biograph Theatre on a hot July evening in 1934. Solos by: Tony Gairo, Flute, Dave Champion, Trombone and Joe Napoli, Guitar.

7 Le Petit Quadrille: Another tip of the toque to the New Orleans Brass Bands, this time featuring John Conahan, Rhodes Piano, Matt Cappy, Trumpet and Mike Hood, Trombone.

8 Caravan: Possibly the greatest Juan Tizol/Duke Ellington collaboration ever. Here performed with reggae and swing bridges. Solos by: Lou Fuiano, Baritone Saxophone, Matt Cappy Trumpet and Tony Gairo Alto Saxophone.

9 Dawn on the Desert: A beautiful transcription of a classic John Kirby sextet number by Trumpeter Charlie Shavers from 1939. Solo here by Joe Napoli, Guitar.

10 12 x 6: Our homage to the Dirty Dozen Brass band…Solos by: Brian Cox, Sousaphone, Darren Keith, Drums, Dave Champion, Trombone, Lou Fuiano, Baritone Saxophone, Doug DeHays, Tenor Saxophone and Matt Cappy, Trumpet.

11 All Alone: The beautiful Mal Waldron ballad is here performed by our horn section featuring Mike Hood on Trombone.

All arrangements and liner notes by Mike Hood.