Among Japan’s leading voices in modern big band jazz, Kenichi Tsunoda’s ensemble celebrates its 10th anniversary with Big Swing. The leader, 51, attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston and paid his dues in the trombone section of three of Japan’s leading big bands: Toshiyuki Miyama’s New Herd, Nobu Hara’s Sharps & Flats, and the Tokyo Union. Writing his own arrangements, Tsunoda steers his ensemble through original themes that provide intellectual pursuits through and through. The band’s members, many of whom solo at will, must surely enjoy taking their places in the fold; for, their adventurous scenes are filled with detailed contrapuntal action. Every minute of the program has the listener on the forward edge of his or her seat. Featured, individual high points include Tatsuya Sato’s fierce tenor solo on “Darkness,” Hideaki Nakaji’s solo on “Old Devil Moon,” Atsushi Ikeda’s alto solo on “Waltz for Debby,” Yoshiaki Okayasu’s guitar solo on “April Wind,” Yuji Kawamura’s stirring soprano saxophone solo on “La Fiesta,” and trumpet solos by Yoshiro Akazaki and Shiro Sasaki on “A Night in Tunisia.” The performance closes this recommended album with a swinging Duke Ellington anthem that swings both individually and as one big, talented ensemble.
Track Listing: Cerro Torre; Darkness; Big Swing; La Fiesta; Memory; Old Devil Moon;
April Wind; A Night In Tunisia; Waltz for Debby; It Don