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The third recording on disc by the University of Kentucky Jazz Ensemble mirrors the forward–leaning temperament of its leader, Miles Osland, with venturesome charts by Bob Mintzer, Gordon Goodwin, Don Menza, Bill Holman and Bryan Murray sharing the bill of fare with more accessible works by Juan Tizol, Gary Foster, Bob Florence, Albert Alva, Ernie Watts and Neal Finn (on whose arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” Osland plays baritone, tenor, alto and soprano saxophones). Not everything is riveting, but the ensemble is persuasive throughout, and soloists are generally admirable, especially baritone Don Steins (featured on Alva’s “Miss Ella”), tenors Murray (Mintzer’s “Dialogue”), Corey Lareau (Goodwin’s “Goober the Accursed”) and Osland again (alto on Foster’s dark–textured samba, “Tesoro,” arranged by Dirk Fischer). An intrepid rhythm section is always helpful, and UK is strong in that area with pianists Cole or Mitchell, bassist Nelson and drummers Reddick or Podojil. “Dialogue” opens the session and segues seamlessly into Menza’s driving “Blues for Uncommon Kids,” which was recorded a number of years ago by drummer Louie Bellson’s band on the album East Side Suite. “Blues” includes splendid muted solos by trumpeter Josh Thompson and trombonist David Ashley with Reddick sitting in for Bellson. Murray’s “Red Reflection,” on which he is featured with Lareau and Podojil, shows two faces, at first pensive and then convivial before turning inward again after the Lareau/Murray tenor duel. Goodwin’s “Goober the Accursed” is a Jazz march, while “Hot Monkey Love” is a light–heated frolic that includes solos by Steins (flute) and Jeremy Long (alto). Holman’s contribution is “No Joy in Mudville,” from the album A View from the Side, with solos by Ashley, Steins (baritone) and Podojil. “Ball Game” showcases Osland’s one–man “saxophone section,” both a cappella and in concert with the ensemble (complete with “Four Brothers”–style ending), while “Perdido” is taken for an uncharacteristically easygoing ride before Steins has his sunniest moments on “Miss Ella.” Murray and Lareau provide an emphatic answer to Florence’s question, “Tenors, Anyone?” before everyone gathers for the “Joyous Reunion” that closes the session. A well–drilled ensemble that doesn’t always travel the beaten path but seldom strays into unwelcome territory.
Track listing: Dialogue; Blues for Uncommon Kids; Red Reflection; Goober the Accursed; Tesoro; No Joy in Mudville; Take Me Out to the Ball Game; Perdido; Miss Ella; Hot Monkey Love; Tenors, Anyone?; Joyous Reunion (73:30).
Miles Osland, director, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes; Jeremy Long, Jonathan Anderson, Bryan Murray, Corey Lareau, Don Steins, reeds; Tim Altman, Josh Thompson, Sara Marchetti, Brandon Stinnett, Jessica Ware, trumpets; David Ashley, Greg Apps, Bill Kite, trombones; Lee Watts, bass trombone; David Henderson, trombone (9), Tony Granados, trombone (5); Nathan Cole, Darren Mitchell, piano; Dr. Richard Dornek, guest piano (8); Larry Nelson, bass; Marcus Reddick, Jamie Podojil, drums; John Best, mallets, percussion.