directed the fifteen-piece Birdland Big Band as part of its weeklong headlining residence at the club the group has been calling home since its inception in 2005. The ensemble kicked off the set with an intriguing piece that shifted tempos, going from swing to blues, depending on who was soloing. The tune started directly, with alto saxophonist Nathan Childers' solo, moving on to the other members and finally ending with an extended feature for bassist Tom Kennedy
's "Armando's Rhumba," which featured fluent solos from Childers and trumpeter Glenn Drewes, as well as a very up-tempo number that featured Kennedy, whose dexterous and fast solo had the entire roomincluding many of the musicians on the standmesmerized at his technique.
. Though originally written for guitar, the tune was well-adapted for big band, and was both a fine vehicle and a great opportunity to cool off a bit after three fast numbers. The evening closed with a rendition of Joe Zawinul
's Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977) faithfully, but contributed his own nuances and personal touches. The number ended with an extended solo from Igoe, who played with great energy and closed the set with great gusto.
There was great chemistry among the musicians, but that was even more noticeable when concentrating on Kennedy and Igoe. They smiled at each other all the time, especially when there was an unexpected riff or licksomething that can only happen when musicians have played with each other for a very long time. It was a highly enjoyable set, and the only negative thing was being unable to stay for the second set, since all tables were sold out.