Dave Slonaker Big Band: Intrada (2014)

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Dave Slonaker Big Band: Intrada
Don't be put off by the name. Intrada, composer / arranger Dave Slonaker points out, is "a musical form often composed as a prelude, overture or fanfare," one whose upbeat phrases give rise to an exhilarating curtain-raiser on Slonaker's initial big-band recording. Rest assured this is a world-class ensemble and there's no doubt whose steady hand is at the helm: Slonaker wrote every number save the standard "It's Only a Paper Moon" and arranged the complete package.

If Slonaker's name is new to you, that's probably because he has spent much of his career as a composer, arranger and orchestrator in films and television. Film credits include Spider-Man, Air Force One, Oz the Great and Powerful, Alice in Wonderland and A Night at the Museum, and he has written for the TV series J.A.G., Murder She Wrote and others. Slonaker has also taught at USC and the Eastman School of Music, while his jazz works have been performed by Clark Terry
Clark Terry
Clark Terry
b.1920
trumpet
, the Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
and Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
orchestras, and many others.

All of which leads to this consistently impressive album in which Slonaker's vibrant and graceful themes are precisely and eloquently animated by a phalanx of the Los Angeles area's most talented and sought-after musicians. Noteworthy c.v. aside, it's clear from the outset that Slonaker has a jazz musician's soul and a sure command of the music's language and history. His music is contemporary in the best sense of the word, harmonically sophisticated yet always accessible thanks to an unswerving reliance on time-honored melodies and rhythms. In other words, this is big-band jazz that quickens the pulse, swings hard and enhances the tradition.

"Intrada" and "Paper Moon" are followed by eight more of Slonaker's inspired compositions, each of which provides a malleable springboard for the ensemble's resourceful soloists. Those who rise to the occasion include saxophonists Bob Sheppard, Adam Schroeder
Adam Schroeder
Adam Schroeder
b.1978
sax, baritone
and Rob Lockart
Rob Lockart
Rob Lockart

saxophone
; trumpeters Clay Jenkins
Clay Jenkins
Clay Jenkins
b.1964
trumpet
and Ron Stout, trombonists Bob McChesney
Bob McChesney
Bob McChesney

trombone
and Alex Iles, bass trombonist Bill Reichenbach, pianist Ed Czach, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer par excellence Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
. There's no point in singling out any particular song for immoderate praise, as every one is outstanding, as is the ensemble.

The same can be said for Intrada itself, a splendid debut by an extraordinary musician who it is hoped will devote even more of his time to leading a band. Well done!

Track Listing: Intrada; It’s Only a Paper Moon; Nite Lites; Nowhere Is a Sometime Thing; Point of Departure; Timelessness; Labyrinth Suite, Part 1 (Labyrinth); Labyrinth Suite, Part 2 (Flight Time); If and Only If; Remembering.

Personnel: Dave Slonaker: composer, arranger, conductor; Wayne Bergeron: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dan Fornero: trumpet, flugelhorn (1-4, 7, 8, 10); Rick Baptist: trumpet, flugelhorn (5, 6, 9); Clay Jenkins: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ron Stout: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bob Sheppard: alto, soprano sax, flute, clarinet; Brian Scanlon: alto sax, flute, piccolo, clarinet; Rob Lockart: tenor sax, clarinet; Tom Luer: tenor sax, clarinet; Adam Schroeder: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Alex Iles: trombone; Bob McChesney: trombone; Charlie Morillas: trombone; Bill Reichenbach: bass trombone, bass trumpet; Ed Czach: piano; Edwin Livingston: bass; Peter Erskine: drums.

Record Label: Origin Records


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