The Florida Community College Jazz Ensemble 1: Jazz from 11901 Beach Boulevard (2000)

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After listening to this splendid album by the Florida Community College Jazz Ensemble 1, I regret more than ever having missed the band’s performance at this year’s IAJE conference in Toronto — but one can’t hear everything. On a brighter note, I was at least able to “take the ensemble home” to appreciate at my leisure the marvelous job director Matt Vance has done to uphold the Jacksonville school’s twenty-three-year record of excellence in Jazz Studies.

The ensemble is in topnotch form on this dapper studio date, recorded in May 2000, which couples its perceptive readings of formidable charts by Lennie Niehaus, Patrick Williams, Tom Kubis, Bob Mintzer, Vince Mendoza, Bob Brookmeyer and Thad Jones with performances by the six-member Jazz Combo of the standard “Stella by Starlight” and Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser.” The ensemble raises the curtain Super Sax-style with Niehaus’ dynamic arrangement of Bird’s “Moose the Mooche” (solos by trumpeter Jason Anderson, trombonist Lance Reed, alto Kenny Hamilton) before slowing the tempo to showcase drummer Tim Stombaugh’s nimble work with brushes and sticks on Williams’ prismatic arrangement of Cole Porter’s “In the Still of the Night.”

Kubis scored Leslie Bricusse / Anthony Newley’s poignant “Who Can I Turn To?,” whose breathtaking passages for reeds and brass are sandwiched around well-crafted statements by pianist Cam Reed and tenors Ben Herod and Tim Mikan. Stombaugh is featured again, this time with trumpeter Dennis Marion, on Mendoza’s handsome treatment of Peter Erskine’s dramatic “To Be or Not to Be,” while Herod and Reed share blowing space on Mintzer’s chromatic cha cha, “Acha.” Following the Jazz Combo’s tender look at “Stella,” Ray’s wistful piano introduces Brookmeyer’s haunting arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark,“ which features Hamilton’s expressive alto.

The Jazz Combo then sprints through “Straight, No Chaser” before offering a conclusive toast, flavored by Jones’s refreshing “Cherry Juice” and including tasty solos by Marion, Mikan, Ray and Stombaugh. As earlier mentioned, the FCC Jazz Studies program has a well-earned reputation for quality, and this impressive album certainly won’t damage that resumé.

Contact: Matt Vance, director of Jazz Studies, Jacksonville Community College, 904-646-2113, or Paul Weikle, director of bands, 904-646-2010.

Track Listing: Moose the Mooche; In the Still of the Night; Who Can I Turn To?; To Be or Not to Be; Acha; Stella by Starlight; Skylark; Straight, No Chaser; Cherry Juice (59:34).

Personnel: Jazz Ensemble 1 -- Matt Vance, director; Kenny Hamilton, alto, soprano sax; Ken Ordway, alto sax, clarinet; Ben Herod, tenor sax, flute; Tim Mikan, tenor sax, clarinet; Polly Creedon, baritone sax, clarinet; Derek Kwong, Lance Reed, Marius Dicpetris, trombone; Major Bailey, bass trombone; Jason Anderson, Dennis Marion, Jason Moylan, Wayne Walters, Gustavo Rodriguez, Blake Briand, trumpet; Cam Ray, piano; Larry Susenburger, guitar; Brooke Carman, bass; Tim Stombaugh, drums. Jazz Combo -- Mikan, tenor sax; Reed, trombone; Anderson, trumpet; Ray, piano; Susenburger, guitar; Carman, bass; Stombaugh, drums.

Record Label: FCCJ

Style: Big Band


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