How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Much like its predecessors, Dan McMillion's fifth album as leader of his central Florida-based Jazz Orchestra offers more straight-ahead swinging inspired by fellow trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's electrifying big bands of the '60s, ably performed by an ensemble comprised of earnest young musicians who don't hold anything back.
Among the eleven selections are two co-written by Maynard ("Give It One," "Footpath Café") and at least four others that are closely associated with the incomparable monarch of the high C's, including Joe Zawinul's funky "Birdland" and Don Sebesky's snappy "Fan It Janet." McMillion solos, on trumpet and/or flugelhorn, on every number save "Janet," showing clearly that when it comes to reaching the stratosphere he's not too far removed from his good friend and role model, Ferguson.
Besides the songs already mentioned, the orchestra body slams impressive charts by Wayne Beardwood (Miles Davis' "Milestones," Coltrane's "Naima"), Keith Mansfield ("Bridge Over Troubled Water"), the late Frank Mantooth (Cole Porter's "So in Love"), Bill Holman (Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man") and Ferguson alumni Tom Garling ("Just Friends") and Denis DiBlasio (his bubbly "Coconut Champagne"). While McMillion solos most often, there are others who comport themselves admirably in that sphere, most notably alto saxophonist Tom Dietz, tenors Mark Gould and Tim Stamps, baritone Dalton Hagler, trombonist Keith Oshiro, pianist Chris Rottmayer and drummer Glen Bush.
Maynard must be pleased to hear the music he helped popularize being played with such adeptness and enthusiasm by a new generation of jazz musicians shepherded by one of his long-time admirers, Dan McMillion. In fact, almost anyone who digs mind-blowing big band jazz should also be refreshed and elated.
Track Listing: Just Friends; Give It One; Bridge Over Troubled Water; Coconut Champagne; Fan It Janet; So in Love; Birdland; Footpath Caf
Personnel: Dan McMillion, leader, trumpet, flugelhorn; Chad Shoopman, Brian Scanlon, Jim Derrick, Mike Iapichino, Alan Stegeman, trumpet, flugelhorn; Keith Oshiro, Matt Buckmaster, Chris Clifton (1, 2, 9), Jason Smith, trombone; Jim Hall, bass trombone; Tom Dietz, alto sax, flute; Wayne Beardwood, alto sax; Mark Gould, Tim Stamps, tenor sax; Dalton Hagler, baritone sax; Chris Rottmayer, keyboards; Joe Porter, acoustic, electric bass; Glen Bush, drums, Latin percussion.