Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchesta / Vaughn Wiester / Chie Imaizumi

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Buselli—Wallarab Jazz Orchestra

Mezzanine

Owl Studios

2010

After veering slightly off-course recently with several albums devoted in part to backing singers, the outstanding Indianapolis-based Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra is back in a more pleasing instrumental groove on Mezzanine, profiling the compositions and arrangements of co-leader / trombonist Brent Wallarab. The first four selections, linked together as Suite Storytelling, were inspired by the writings of four masters of the genre: J.D. Salinger, Mark Twain, Anton Chekhov and Charles Dickens. The suite, Wallarab writes, "is not programmatic...each movement is a tribute to influential short stories / story-tellers from my youth."

"The Glass Tree" (dedicated to Salinger) showcases Rob Dixon's tenor sax, "Taballae Ex Terra" (Twain) Frank Glover
Frank Glover
Frank Glover

clarinet
's clarinet, "Mezzanine" (Chekhov) Wallarab's trombone, and "Sketch for Boz" (Dickens, using an early pen name) Glover's tenor sax and Luke Gillespie's piano. The first three movements are even-tempered and mellow—perhaps too much so for some tastes—but Wallarab makes excellent use of color and dynamics to underline their inherent charm. "Boz" is more animated, with Glover and Gillespie's probing choruses presaging its decisive shout chorus.

A second suite, the three-part Suite Influence, is separated from the first by Cole Porter's seldom-heard ballad "Goodbye Little Dream, Goodbye," on which co-leader Mark Buselli
Mark Buselli
Mark Buselli
b.1958
trumpet
's burnished flugelhorn amplifies its handsome melody. The suite is comprised of Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
1904 - 1944
trombone
's "Moonlight Serenade," Edgar Sampson
Edgar Sampson
b.1907
's "Stompin' at the Savoy" and Ray Noble
Ray Noble
Ray Noble
1903 - 1978
composer/conductor
's "Cherokee," all seductively arranged by Wallarab. Gillespie and Glover (again on clarinet) are out front on "Serenade," Buselli (muted trumpet) on "Savoy," Buselli (trumpet and flugel), Dixon and Gillespie on "Cherokee." The album closes with Wallrab's glossy arrangement of Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
's "Little Sunflower," featuring his trombone with Glover and Dixon on soprano sax.

If there's a complaint to be made, it is that most of Wallarab's charts, tasteful as they are, fail to generate much heat to reinforce their elegance, with only "Sketch for Boz" and "Cherokee" moving at more than a moderate pace. Apart from that, there is nothing disparaging to say, as this Mezzanine affords an auspicious view of a superior contemporary jazz orchestra at the top of its game.

Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra

Jazz Tempo

CoJazz

2010

There are a number of things always to be counted on when appraising a new album by trombonist Vaughn Wiester's splendid Columbus, Ohio-based Famous Jazz Orchestra (which isn't really "famous" in the truest sense of the word but should be): the music will be live (and lively), the Jazz Tempo impeccable, the choice of material consistently engaging, the orchestra itself earnest and swinging from the opening downbeat.

Wiester knows full well that every note won't be perfect, but he's willing to accept that in return for the aura of spontaneity and excitement that only a live recording can produce. What better way to open any concert than with one of the great Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman
b.1927
sax, tenor
's classic themes, in this case "Bright Eyes." Holman returns later with its "companion" piece, "Evil Eyes," complementing superb charts by Slide Hampton
Slide Hampton
Slide Hampton
b.1932
trombone
, Ernie Wilkins
Ernie Wilkins
Ernie Wilkins
1922 - 1999
arranger
, Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
b.1933
producer
, Phil Wilson
Phil Wilson
b.1937
,Alan Broadbent
Alan Broadbent
Alan Broadbent
b.1947
piano
, Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
and Billy Byers
Billy Byers
b.1927
. Bill Dobbins
Bill Dobbins
Bill Dobbins

piano
arranged Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
' "Turn Out the Stars" as a vehicle for tenor saxophonist Bryan Olsheski, while Wiester adapted Tutti Camarata
Tutti Camarata
1913 - 2005
arranger
's arrangement of the hymn "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" for the Doc Everhart Band (this version features trombonist Matthew Ellison
Matthew Ellison
b.1973
bass, electric
).

Jimmie Powell
Jimmie Powell
b.1914
's nimble flugelhorn is showcased on Thad Jones' "Low Down" and "It Only Happens Every Time," guest artist Art Silva's alto on Quincy Jones' "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set," one of four charts written for the Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
book (the others are Wilkins' "Basie," Byers' "Souse of the Border" and Bill Davis' "Indian Summer"). Broadbent wrote "Sugarloaf Mountain" for the Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
Herd, Hampton "Frame for the Blues" (a tad overlong at 12:14) for the Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
1928 - 2006
trumpet
orchestra. Completing the delightful program are Hampton's arrangement of Henry Mancini
Henry Mancini
Henry Mancini
b.1924
composer/conductor
/ Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
1909 - 1976
composer/conductor
's "Days of Wine and Roses" and Wilson's sensuous "Camel Driver."

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