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Dave Tofani is one of many jazz artists who are extraordinarily talented, but who never quite receive the recognition and adulation their work deserves. Tofani has an impressive resume fitting in with such diverse artists and groups as Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, The New York Philharmonic, John Lennon, Steely Dan and Frank Sinatra, among others. He is also a composer of significant skill. His writings appear on more than 500 jazz and classical albums and over 100 major film soundtracks. Yet An American Garden is his first album as a leader. To showcase this collection of his seven expanded jazz compositions, he utilizes an assortment of ensembles varying in size from a quintet to a string orchestra, totaling 41 of New York City's finest performing and studio musicians. Tofani is featured on most cuts playing one or more of the variety of instruments he has mastered, including the alto, soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, a conglomeration of flutes, clarinets and other instruments. The album kicks off with the upbeat modern complex title tune played by the large band, recalling some of the work of masters of compositions for large aggregations Gil Evans and Gerald Wilson. In contrast, there's the graceful "Elizabeth's Journey" with Tofani's alto riding the plush melodic cushion laid down by the string section. There's even a piece with classical chamber music bent with the flute dominated "Quintetto di Flauti". Matters get a bit more passionate and dramatic with Tofani once more on alto as he applauds the mysteries of the nocturnal Big Apple with "New York at Night". All restraint is put aside as the band easily negotiates meter shifts on the album's rousing coda, "Liberte". A fitting way to end a CD filled with a diversity of musical forms played by top of the list jazz musicians. Recommended.
Track Listing: An American Garden; New York at Night; Quintetto di Flauti; High Mowing Orchestral Suite; Elizabeth's Journey; Rough Ride; Liberte
Personnel: Dave Tofani - Alto, Tenor, Baritone & Soprano Sax/Flutes/Piccolo/Electric Keyboard/Clarinet/ Bass Clarinet; Lawrence Feldman - Alto Sax; Dennis Anderson, Ted Nash - Tenor Sax; Ronnie Cuber - Baritone Sax; Bob Millikan, Danny Cahn, Alan Rubin, Marvin Stamm - Trumpet; Jim Pugh, Birch Johnson, Keith O'Quinn - Trombone; Dave Taylor - Bass Trombone; Pat Rebillot - Piano; Ronnie Zito, Danny Gottlieb - Drums; Jeff Mironov, Jack Wilkins - Guitar; Jack Cortner - Conductor; Zev Katz - Electric Bass; David Finck, John Beal, Jay Leonhart - Acoustic Bass; Mark Egan - Fretless Bass; Gordon Gottlieb - Dumbek/Cymbals/Percussion; Ray Spiegel - Tabla; New York City String Orchestra