As a writer, I understand the impulse to explain, but I often prefer the Panorama Brass Band in a parade to the Panorama Jazz Band because sometimes explanations get in the way. When I’m reminded of each song’s national origin and the folk dance or rhythm associated with it, the eclecticism sometimes seems forced, as if the songs’ origins matter more than the songs themselves. But when I get song after song after song with no clue of their roots, the joy in Panorama’s performances dominates. Come Out Swingin’ has a similar effect. The behind-the-story info is inside the liner notes, but if you don’t open them, you discover on your own how much popular (and populist) world dance musics share. Or, more accurately, Panorama suggests how much they share as Ben Schenck and company unify the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and New Orleans through their musical voices. The hell with U.S.A. for Africa; they are the world.
Come Out Swingin’ represents the band better than many of the albums by essentially acoustic, ensemble-oriented jazz bands do. Schenck’s production ensures that all the instruments have distinctive voices, so you can always find his clarinet, Walt McClements’ accordion and Aurora Nealand’s saxophone, even during the most raucous passages. And the band’s live energy isn’t lost or muted in the studio. Listeners don’t necessarily have the advantage of beer to make it seem wilder, but the album’s wild enough, and it reminds you that Panorama isn’t getting by live on infectious good cheer and energy. Schenck took his time getting the album out, but it was time well-spent.