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Ali Ryerson Jazz Flute Big Band: Game Changer (2013)

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Ali Ryerson Jazz Flute Big Band: Game Changer How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Yes, the idea seems rather implausible: a big band comprised of sixteen flutes and rhythm. Flutist Ali Ryerson
Ali Ryerson
Ali Ryerson

flute
is the catalyst and guiding hand behind the Jazz Flute Big Band (JFBB), which was formed in 2005 and has been performing at various events across the country ever since. Before dismissing it out of hand, give the JFBB's debut album, Game Changer, a listen; you may be in for a pleasant surprise. It's remarkable what well-written charts can do for an ensemble, even one that consists primarily of a single instrument (or five, if you subdivide the C, alto, bass and contrabass flutes nnd piccolo).

Needless to say, arranging for a nineteen-piece band sixteen of whose members are playing flute posed an enormous challenge for the half-dozen craftsmen chosen to carry out the enterprise, and each of them has come through with flying colors. Mike Wofford wrote three charts, Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
b.1956
piano
and Mike Abene two apiece. Mark Levine
Mark Levine
Mark Levine
b.1938
piano
scored Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
1930 - 1956
trumpet
's bop classic "Daahoud," Steve Rudolph the Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
ballad "Speak Like a Child," Billy Kerr the classical composer Gabriel Faure's brooding "Pavane." Completing the program are Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
's "Ana Maria," Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
1932 - 1975
arranger
's "Stolen Moments," Tom Harrell
Tom Harrell
Tom Harrell
b.1946
trumpet
's "Sail Away" (Wofford), Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
's "Con Alma," John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's "Impressions" (Cunliffe), Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
1922 - 2008
trumpet
's "Girl Talk" and "Li'l Darlin'" (Abene).

The FJBB's rhythm section (Levine, piano; Rufus Reid
Rufus Reid
Rufus Reid
b.1944
bass, acoustic
, bass; Akira Tana
Akira Tana
Akira Tana
b.1952
, drums) is exemplary, as are its trio of guest soloists: Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
b.1939
flute
("Stolen Moments"), Nestor Torres ("Con Alma") and Holly Hofmann ("Girl Talk"). Ryerson (alto flute) trades with Hofmann on "Girl Talk" and solos on "Sail Away." Others who solo are Paul Lieberman on "Daahoud," Marc Adler
Marc Adler
Marc Adler

flute
on "Ana Maria," Jamie Baum
Jamie Baum
Jamie Baum

flute
on "Speak Like a Child," Kerr and Fernando Brandao on "Pavane," Bob Chadwick on "Li'l Darlin.'" And if you think flutists can't swing as hard as anyone, try "Impressions" (fiery solo courtesy of Andrea Brachfield).

Notwithstanding the absence of brass and reeds, Game Changer sounds much like any other well-written and superbly performed big-band album. The flutes are clearly more subdued but no less pleasing, the charts as admirable as could be envisioned for an ensemble of this kind. In other words, they are far from bland, nor is the tasteful Jazz Flute Big Band, which is off to an impressive start.

Track Listing: Daahoud; Ana Maria; Stolen Moments; Speak Like a Child; Con Alma; Girl Talk; Pavane; Impressions; Sail Away; Li’l Darlin’.

Personnel: Ali Ryerson: leader, C and alto flute; Marc Adler: C and alto flute; Jamie Baum: C and alto flute; Andrea Brachfeld: C and alto flute; Fernando Brandao: C, alto and bass flute; Bob Chadwick: bass flute; Richard Ford: C and alto flute; Kris Keith: C and alto flute; Zachary Kellogg: piccolo, C flute; Billy Kerr: C and alto flute; Paul Lieberman: C, alto and bass flute; Rachel Rodgers: C flute; Jonathan Royce: C and alto flute; Donna Sevcovic: bass flute; Stan Slotter: C and alto flute; Keith Underwood: bass and contrabass flute; Mark Levine: piano; Rufus Reid: bass; Akira Tana: drums, percussion. Guest Soloists — Holly Hofmann: C flute; Hubert Laws: alto flute; Nestor Torres: C flute.

Record Label: Capri Records


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