How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Directed by saxophonist Miles Osland, the University of Kentucky’s Jazz Ensemble performs a varied program of big band arrangements. The leader performs Gary Foster’s Latin ballad "Tesoro" on alto sax with subtle accompaniment from his charges. They work together well as a team and Osland demonstrates that he is a superb artist. He performs "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" by multi-tracking baritone, tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones himself with the band accompanying. While the ensemble performs its duties with well-rehearsed care throughout the session, most of the solo breaks leave little room for improvisation. Instead, a conservative approach pervades, and the safer road appears to be most-followed route.
Bill Holman’s "No Joy in Mudville" finds the band passing the melody from section to section and opening windows for brief solo spurts. Pianist Nathan Cole backs Don Steins’ baritone saxophone solo and the band trades fours with drummer Jamie Podojil, but the real burner is a creative trombone solo spot from David Ashley. Bob Florence’s "Tenors, Anyone?" features the stand-up saxophone voices of Corey Lareau and Bryan Murray in an up-tempo stroll through the park. As with the scenery of a landscaped public recreation area, the band changes mood throughout Florence’s piece, from laid-back and easy-going to somewhat fiery and snake-bitten. "Joyous Reunion," by Ernie Watts with pianist David Witham, brings two of Osland’s best soloists together for back-to-back carefree improvisation. Murray and Ashley provide a needed spark; the tenor saxophonist is especially free and imaginative in his approach. Don Menza’s "Blues for Uncommon Kids" allows the band some freedom of exp! ression through its drum breaks, tempo changes, wah-wah brass phrasing, and rambling solos from trumpeter Josh Thompson and trombonist Ashley. It’s a comfortable blues walk, as the band feels its way through the arrangement and learns its lessons one step at a time.
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.Collective
Personnel: Miles Osland- soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax; Jeremy Long, Jonathan Anderson, Bryan Murray, Corey Lareau, Don Steins- saxophone; Tim Altman, Josh Thompson, Sara Marchetti, Brandon Stinnett, Jessica Ware- trumpet; David Ashley, Greg Apps, Bill Kite- trombone; Lee Watts- bass trombone; David Henderson- trombone on "Miss Ella"; Tony Granados- tuba on "Tesoro"; Dr. Richard Domek- piano on "Perdido"; Nathan Cole, Darren Mitchell- piano; Larry Nelson- acoustic bass, electric bass on "Hot Monkey Love" and "Joyous Reunion"; Marcus Reddick, Jamie Podojil- drums; John Best- vibes, percussion.