As near as I can determine from the German notes, the Allgäu–Schwäbischer Musikbund is a marching band associated with Stadtkapelle Wertingen, one of Germany’s many first–class music schools, while the Papa Lips Big Band is apparently its Jazz orchestra counterpart. On Dynamik,
the larger ensemble performs a number of pieces for winds and marching band before the smaller ”big band” takes a swing at some Jazzier material including Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something,” Don Menza’s “Groovin’ Hard,” Paul Lavender’s “Slammin’” and Mark Taylor’s “Brass Machine.” I don’t know the ages of the musicians, but their skills are roughly equivalent to those found in our second–tier college or top–rank high school Jazz Studies programs. Saxophonist Manfred Lipp, who directs the bands on Dynamik,
is co–director (with trombonist Peter Reschka) of the Papa Lips Band, and while there’s no way to learn how many of these young musicians perform in both bands (personnel on Dynamik
is unlisted), the level of proficiency seems comparable (although Papa Lips sounds smoother and more rehearsed). The band’s unusual name may derive from a nickname for director Lipp, or from the fact that its repertoire includes Bob Mintzer’s calypso, “Papa Lips.” In fact, the program seems designed to display the many facets of a big band, showcasing a variety of styles from blues to swing, ballad to funk rock, samba to calypso and embodying compositions by Mintzer, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Thad Jones, Sammy Nestico, Marcus Miller, Denis Di Blasio, Matt Wallace, Neal Hefti, Count Basie and Maynard Ferguson. As with most big–bands at this level, the ensemble as a whole easily eclipses the soloists, none of whom can be described as riveting. The charts themselves are engaging if not overly burdensome. While no one would mistake Papa Lips for Basie, Herman or Jones–Lewis, these relative youngsters are giving big–band Jazz the best they have to offer, and that endeavor warrants one’s loud and enthusiastic applause.
Track listing: Dynamik — Signature; Visions of Flight; Serenade; Blossom in a Japanese Garden; Blues for a Killed Kat; Music for Drums; Introducing the Band; This Could Be the Start of Something Big; Groovin’ Hard; Slammin’; Brass Machine (46:33). Papa Lips — That’s All; Watermelon Man; A Night in Tunisia; All Blues; US; Snakes; Coconut Champagne; On Green Dolphin Street; Omaha; Hay Burner; Whirly Bird; Papa Lips; Jumpin’ at the Woodside; Fireshaker (61:45).