Trumpeter Jack Cortner has been an integral part of New York's vibrant music scene for over forty-five years, primarily as a composer and arranger writing for Broadway musical theatre, commercials and television. While you may not be familiar with his work in jazz, you have probably heard his music if you've ever seen the popular soaps The Edge of Night
or As The World Turns
or watched the familiar ABC-TV's Monday Night Football.
Cortner has written the themes for all of these shows.
His love for jazz and his forty-year friendship with trumpeter Marvin Stamm has thankfully led to his first big band recording featuring Stamm as the principal soloist. Other first-rate soloists prominently showcased here are pianist Bill Mays, saxophonist Dave Tofani, drummer John Riley and trombonist Jim Pugh.
Involved in New York's music business for as long as Cortner has, one tends to develop a strong relationship with that area's top musicians, many of whom have joined him for this album recorded in three sessions between 2004 and 2006. Cortner uses no less than twenty-six players, producing a powerhouse big band swing that one normally associates with an explosive muscle orchestra, which is exactly what the leader has assembled. Fast Track gives you eleven superb big band charts all arranged by Cortner who also contributes five original compositions.
Stamm brings one of his own compositions "Who's at Talkin,'" that starts the music off in a rousing manner. Stamm solos effortlessly on this and the Hammerstein/Romberg standard "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise," except there's nothing soft about this number that features a great howling woodwind section. The trumpeter provides steamy performances on Cortner's lively upbeat arrangements of "Secret Love," and "Lover Man."
The beautiful "Ballad For Betsy," enjoys the soft phrasing of trombonist Pugh, while Ferde Grofe's "On The Trail" remains one of my favorite scores, which rumbles right along in pure big band swing style covered by Stamm's muted horn solo on a loud audacious piece of music.
Tofani takes center stage on "Limehouse Blues," with respectable support by Mays. Cortner slows down the pace with his composition "Slowdown," a beautiful soft ballad that doses not get lost in the crowd of fiery tunes.
Rounding out the leader's originals are "Flimflam Ma'am" and the title cut, two more terrific big band numbers. With assertive and full of fire orchestrations, Jack Cortner's Fast Track delivers an exciting and thoroughly compelling big band sound.
Personnel: Marvin Stamm: trumpet,flugelhorn; Bob Millikan: trumpet; Brian O'Flaherty: trumpet; Danny Cahn: trumpet; Tony Kadleck: trumpet; Bud Burridge: trumpet (4, 5, 8, 9, 11); Jim Pugh: trombone; Tony Studd: trombone; Birch Johnson: trombone; Bruce Bonvissuto: trombone (4, 11), Paul Faulise: trombone; Lawrence Feldman: saxophones; Jerry Dodgion: saxophones; Dave Tofani: saxophones; Dennis Anderson: saxophones; Kenny Berger: saxophones; Ronnie Cuber: saxophones (4, 11); Jeff Mironov: guitar; Bill Mays: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Martin Wind: bass (4, 11); John Riley: drums.