How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Quick and to the Point: WDR’s Latin Big Band offering with D’Rivera, Roditi and others.
Big Band Time is yet another showcase for the first-rate WDR Big Band (WDR), featuring Paquito D’Rivera and Claudio Roditi. Conducted and rearranged by Bill Dobbins, the material is familiar, although its treatment isn’t. The reconceptualizations of compositions mostly associated with the career of the Cuban saxophonist are ingenious and the WDR eats them up. All soloists do the same, as this is a particularly strong musical group; hence the ease with which both D’Rivera and Roditi stay par course with their respective well-established reputations and musical characters. The former’s clarinet playing is always a pleasure to hear – particularly so on “Song For Maura” – while the latter’s reliance blindsides many to his trustworthiness. Together, with the crystalline tightness of the sonic immensity of the WDR behind them, they manage their entreaties predictably well.
Everybody swings finely and strongly, even with the type of high-class elegance that big bands ought to elicit while performing these types of tunes. The album, however, is not on the jamming side of the fence. Even so, there’s plenty of tropical heat and it couldn’t be otherwise given all guests involved and the nature of the material. Thankfully, rather than blowing for its own sake, the ensemble playing is a credit upon itself, magnifying the effect of all soloists.
Big Band Time does not have one accurate length of the performances in the printed information. Not all the soloists mentioned solo and some, as in the cases of the missing credit for trombone solo in “Basstronaut,” as well as the piano one in “Who’s Smokin?” where Ludwig Nuss is credited for an nonexistent trombone solo. If you are concerned with such minutiae, the credits must be redone. As per the music, it really is a fine, fattened musical time.