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Mt. Hood Jazz Band and Combo 2007: I'm Still Here (2007)

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There is a certain level of expectation for student bands, but the music from this all-star group belies its members' tender years. Their ensembles are tight and the soloists play at a very high level. The Mt. Hood Jazz Band—well-directed by Susie Jones and consisting of musicians from the Pacific Northwest—performed at the 2007 IAJE Conference with guests Nancy King, Thara Memory and Stan Bock, and then were able to go into the studio with them, though most of the CD focuses on the band.

Alto saxophonist Max Bryk has several features; his exuberant solo in John Coltrane's "Grand Central shows a Phil Woods influence, yet he is just as convincing on the tender ballad "The End of a Love Affair," playing with economy while delivering a heartfelt performance. Tom Peters is not only an excellent trumpeter, but contributes the cool "Out of Sync," on which he plays a sassy muted solo.

Several selections have multiple soloists. Trumpeters Cory Palacios and Jeff Johnson set a high standard with their respective muted and open solos in John Clayton's "I Be Serious 'Bout Dem Blues," but each player makes a case for their presence in the band. The catchy unison of guitarist Michael Backus and tenor saxophonist Sam Solano makes Jerry Bergonzi's demanding "Out House come alive.

The guest tracks are special, too. King's vocals are the centerpiece of a swinging "I've Got You Under My Skin (including her spirited scatting over a catchy vamp), while trumpeter Memory is featured in her own Basie-like swinger "Blues For Warren." Bock is heard on trombone in the breezy samba "Beijo Inocente," with fine solos as well by pianist Nick Ettlin and trumpeter Jeff Johnson. Highly recommended!

Track Listing: Grand Central; I've Got You Under My Skin; I'm All For You; Beijo Inocente; I Be Serious 'Bout Dem Blues; End Of a Love Affair; Out House; The Refrigerator; Out Of Sync; Blues For Warren.

Personnel: Susie Jones: director. Jazz Band: Wes Luttrell, Eli Fisher, Dustin Williams, Michael Kurtz, Sergey Bogza: trumpet; Dave Coyle: alto sax, flute, clarinet; Gideon Hawkins: alto sax, clarinet; Sam Solano: tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Charles Holton: tenor sax, clarinet; Billy Gaechter: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Josh Bennett, Matt Hutson, Chris Traylor, Alex Cook: trombone; Andrew Washburn: piano; Michael Backus: guitar; Dave Speranza: bass; Brian Sprague, Sam Henry: drums, percussion. Winter Green Combo: Coyle: alto sax; Solano: tenor sax; Washburn: piano; Backus: guitar; Speranza: bass; Evan Guilford: drums.

Record Label: Sea Breeze Vista

Style: Big Band


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