The Big Band Theory – Reviews

all_about_jazz The Big Band Theory – Bethany Smith Staelens
Jazz vocalist Bethany Smith Staelens may not be such a recognizable name in the jazz world today but, with the release of The Big Band Theory, Staelens’ recording debut seems to affirm the hypothesis that one terrific singer, an eighteen-piece big band, and a wonderful selection of music equals a swinging session of big band jazz vocals and instant notoriety.
After one listen to The Big Band Theory, it is apparent that Bethany Smith Staelens is a phenomenal singer, the ensemble she fronts is superb, and the music selection is outstanding. The result is a recording that is no big band theory after all—just proof positive that raw vocal energy and massive brass is all that is needed for a successful musical treat. The Big Band Theory – Bethany Smith Staelens
I’m trying to figure out how to shower praise on a woman who can sing like this, knows her way around a kitchen, and also knows how to pick a good wine to go with it…and not have it all sound like something sexist.  So we’ll simply leave that thought for a moment, and talk about that other cookin’ that Bethany Smith Staelens clearly knows how to do.
…This disc puts the pedal down from track one, and doesn’t let up for nearly an hour.
To say one has a “way with a lyric” can be code for “lived some of this stuff,” or at least enough to know what it’s all about.  And so yes, Ms. Staelens has a way with a lyric…and when you hear her sing, “Here’s That Rainy Day,” well – you can’t fake experience. And it’s that same experience that shines through, whether we’re on the big speakers in the living room, blowing out the windows with the power of “All Or Nothing At All,” or having a jaw-dropping “Memorex Moment” as she hits the the high notes with this much power – in “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”Seriously.  Don’t try this at home, kids.  You’ll hurt yourselves. Highest recommenation for this disc.  It’s in my iPod’s power rotation.
Improvijazzation Nation Bethany Smith-Staelens – The Big Band Theory
We hadn’t heard Bethany’s swingin’ vocals before, but when one was raised on the excitement that big bands can bring (my uncle spoon-fed me Woody Herman albums for many years) you almost automatically listen for a good strong vocal lead.  Ms. Smith-Staelens accomplishes that with (seeming) ease… the player list is far too long to itemize in a review, but the arrangements do a wonderful job of mixing her vocals right
in where they need to be… especially when she starts her super scat on “It Don’t Mean A Thing”… just JUMPIN’!  Her voice has a full-bodied quality that most female jazz singers can only aspire to, and she can switch rhythm modes like no one I’ve ever heard before… just check out “Jobim Medley” & you’ll hear what I mean.  I’m highly impressed, and if you love big band sounds fronted by high quality talent, this one’s for you.  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Very nice and enduring jazz talent that will stay at the top of your playlists.
MetroSpirit Magazine Bethany Smith Staelens – The Big Band Theory
With a sense of power and experience, Bethany Smith Staelens breathes new life into jazz vocals with the release of “Big Band Theory.”
Loaded with excitement and beauty, Staelens’ release is a powerful composition screaming for notice and reaction. With an amazing range, Staelens explodes within the frame of the music singing with the band and climbing above expectations.
Bill Bruce – KFSR Fresno, CA.    Bethany Smith Staelens – The Big Band Theory
I enjoyed listening to the “Big Band Theory” …in particular “Imagination”, cut 12.  The conversation between the piano and the voice worked wonderfully.   A big band format presents challenges that smaller groups avoid, but, also has lots of rewards.  This is a “rewarding” album and in my mind I can picture Bethany on stage in front of the band, with mike in hand.  I can also picture her putting the mike at her side, and stepping aside and letting the band take its turn.  Kind of like it used to be back in the forties and fifties.
Fellow musicians are saying:
“You are so awesome!  Great pitch, huge clear sound, amazing range, but best of all, you sing WITH THE BAND.  You are a musician, on top of being a singer, which is the best compliment us guys can give you guys.”
…Gordon Goodwin Saxophonist, pianist, composer, arranger, Grammy Award winner, Emmy Award winner
“The project sounds wonderful, Bethany.  The band is burning, and your voice takes the whole date over the top!  A great CD full of exciting and beautiful moments. Congrats!”
…John Fedchock trombonist, composer, arranger, Grammy Award nominee
“It’s not often that you’ll find a swinging big band with a vocalist that swings just as hard.  You’ll find it here with Bethany Smith Staelens and The Big Band Theory. Bethany’s range, pitch and phrasing propel the outstanding ensemble and arrangements to another level.  Her soli lead on “It Don’t Mean a Thing” is a testament to her deep commitment and connection with the band.  She’s not just “fronting” the band, she is truly a part of the ensemble.  Swinging soloists, a tight ensemble, and a vocalist with a deep groove…this is a CD you’ll want to listen to again and again.”
…Philip M. Burlin Chief Musician, Unit Leader U.S. Navy Band ‘Commodores’ Jazz Ensemble
Good writing…Bethany sounds great – super high chops…really nice solos; the band sounds
really good.
…Tony Kadleck trumpet, composer, arranger