From longtime television, film, and commercial arranger Phil Kelly comes Convergence Zone, his first album as a leader. Since a relocation to the Pacific Northwest in 1998, Kelly has worked with a number of regional jazz figures, culminating in the grouping of the NW Prevailing Winds big band playing here. The album is full of works of big-band majesty, able to emulate the high points of Woody Herman and Count Basie with ease as well as covering new ground in the traditions of the '60s cinematic orchestras. Kelly's compositions and arrangements are the primary stars of the album, with the ability to "simultaneously sound loose and tight," as one critic paradoxically put it. The album opens with a relatively straightforward adaptation/parody of "Camptown Races," then moves somewhat awkwardly into a slightly more funky soul-influenced number. More seamlessly moving forward, one encounters a more relaxed form of swing and an adaptation of "Sweet Georgia Brown" originally written for Doc Severinsen's Tonight Show Band. Trumpeter Jay Thomas makes a stirring tribute to his mentor, Conte Candoli, in a tribute by Joe La Barbera, and the old standard "You and the Night and the Music" provides a nice straightforward groove session with a subtle touch of bop sewn in. The bop continues to a degree in "Yada Yada," with notable solos again by Thomas as well as Pete Christlieb. A Basie tribute of sorts, "O.T.B.S" lays out a long relaxed session with a basic 12-bar blues structure, giving everyone in the band his own time to shine in a solo, and "Kathy's Waltz" is a more orchestral work (with a missing third beat in the waltz) in memory of Kelly's late wife. The album closes on a horn-based gospel groove of sorts with "The Refrigerator." Given the dearth of good big-band arrangers out there in recent years, Kelly is a bright spot in a slightly rarefied field. For the musicality of his arrangements alone, the album is worth hearing. For the additional abilities of the bandmembers, the album becomes one worth buying.