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Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band: Eleven (2012)

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Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band: Eleven Track review of "Moanin’"

How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Like many other corners in that amorphous room called jazz, big band jazz has grown more abstract and experimental since its heyday in the 1930s. This process is necessary for the creative evolution of the art, but often produces music that is as unlistenable as it is creative—or brilliant. Abstract growth may be considered horizontal evolution, but there is also vertical evolution; evolution that values working within the parameters of the conventional—using arrangements of ever- increasing intricacy, but not at the expense of that constantly elusive musical commodity, swing.

Drummer Tommy Igoe
Tommy Igoe
Tommy Igoe

drums
and the Birdland Big Band take swing seriously and prove it on Eleven. demonstrating their collective understanding of vertical musical evolution on eleven (mostly) contemporary compositions. Pieces by Mike Stern
Mike Stern
Mike Stern
b.1953
guitar
, Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
, Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
and Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
1949 - 2007
sax, tenor
are given breathtaking readings through refined arrangements teeming with compelling solos. Out of these mostly contemporary compositions, Bobby Timmons
Bobby Timmons
Bobby Timmons
1935 - 1974
piano
' canonic "Moanin'" is a stone-cold standout.

Arranged by tenor saxophonist Rob Middleton, who also solos on the piece, Timmons' masterpiece is given a retro introduction before Tom Kennedy
Tom Kennedy
Tom Kennedy
b.1960
bass
's double bass leads into the familiar cotton field call-and-response with the reeds. The chorus features the harmonica of Rob Paparozzi, who can easily hold court with Toots Thielemans
Toots Thielemans
Toots Thielemans
b.1922
harmonica
or Hendrik Meurkens
Hendrik Meurkens
Hendrik Meurkens
b.1957
harmonica
. The reading is semi-standard, with ensemble interludes that complement Middleton well. All of the solos are superb, and the level of arranging and performance puts Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band well ahead of other contemporary big band offerings.

Personnel: Tommy Igoe: drums, percussion; Tom Kennedy: bass; Kenny Ascher: piano; Chris Jaudes: trumpet; Nick Marchione: trumpet; John Walsh: trumpet; Raul Agraz: trumpet; Glenn Drews: trumpet; Isrea Butler: trombone; Andy Hunter: trombone; Jeff Nelson bass trombone; Nathan Childers: alto and soprano saxophones; Matt Hong: alto saxophone; Dan Willis: tenor saxophone; Rob Middleton: tenor saxophone; Barbara Cifelli: baritone saxophone; Rob Paparozzi: harmonica.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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