University of Northern Iowa Jazz Band One: Games
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Mark my word, the day of the big band will return. The reason I say that is because music this good can’t remain unnoticed or unappreciated forever. With Jazz Studies programs proliferating and the number of young people in college ensembles increasing, it stands to reason that one of the by–products would be a larger and more well–informed audience for the music itself. Hasn’t happened yet, but it’s bound to. And when it does, superlative young ensembles such as UNI’s Jazz Band One will be in the vanguard. The saxophone section alone (which it is most of the way except for drummer Hastie) deserves a standing ovation for its uncanny togetherness Charlie Young’s warp–speed arrangement of Cole Porter’s “Easy to Love.” But that’s only one nail in this sturdy framework, planned with care by director Bob Washut and carried out flawlessly by his eager young charges. Even when the music is less welcome to these ears (as on Todd Munnik’s “Guten Tag, Ziggareten?”), it is no less well–performed by the ensemble. Washut’s lush arrangement of the Bernstein/Sondheim ballad “Somewhere,” featuring guest clarinetist Jack Graham, sounds as though it would have fit quite snugly into Kenton’s West Side Story.
Guest vocalist Sarah Barber makes a cameo appearance on “The Cage,” wherein the ensemble actually swings the music of Charles Ives, no mean feat. After breaking free of Ives’ “Cage,” the ensemble returns to the Swing and Bop eras to close the session with charmingly atmospheric readings of Eddie Durham’s “Every Tub,” Johnny Hodges’ “Jeep’s Blues” and Charles Mingus’ aptly named “Boogie Stop Shuffle.” Completing the colorful program are Melton Mustafa’s Thad Jones–like “3 in 1 Blues,” Steve Coleman’s playful “Games,” Jerry Dodgion’s creamy “Butter,” Coltrane’s prodigious “Giant Steps” and last but not least, Washut’s picturesque Latin charmer, “El Pajarito.” While the rhythm section is consistently sharp and soloists equal to most other college–level bands, it is the ensemble as a unit that warrants one’s wholehearted applause. If a teacher can be fairly appraised by the fruits of his/her guidance, Washut has to be considered one of the best.
Track listing: 3 in 1 Blues; El Pajarito; Games; Easy to Love; Butter; Guten Tag, Ziggaretten?; Somewhere; Giant Steps; The Cage; Every Tub; Jeep’s Blues; Boogie Stop Shuffle (67:38).
Todd Munnik, Rick Stone, Dustin Bear, Jay Ramsey, Jeff Schafer, saxophones; Dan Zager, Willie Garza, Eric Miller, Dave Lisik, Adam Lauritsen, trumpets; Mike Berven, Paul Rappaport, B.J. Kleene, trombones; Andrew Pratt, bass trombone; Steve Shanley, acoustic and electric piano; Mike Cramer, guitar; Dave Altenmeier, acoustic and electric bass; Jason Hastie, drums; Bob Washut, cowbell (on
Style: Big Band