Trombonist Dave Glenn's 12-piece Little Big Band, which thanks to creative chartmaking is more big than little on Journeys, helps redress a clear-cut need, as there aren't many bands that size recording these days. In fact, even Glenn's band isn't recording these days, having completed this assignment more than three years ago, in April 1995. Since putting together his New York-based ensemble, Glenn has moved on to Washington state where he heads the Jazz Studies department at Whitman College in Walla Walla. Journeys was produced by another fine trombonist, John Fedchock, and is so tastefully done that one has to wonder why it took three years to move from studio to disc. Three of the eight compositions and all the arrangements are Glenn's, and they embody the comfortable, reassuring aspect of one's favorite leather jacket or penny loafers. Although the program includes selections by Dizzy Gillespie ("Manteca"), Rahsaan Roland Kirk ("Serenade to a Cuckoo"), Wayne Shorter ("Footprints") and Juan Tizol/Duke Ellington ("Caravan"), Glenn easily keeps pace in such fast company with the Latin-flavored "Journeys," the plainspoken cooker, "Cheesehead," and, especially, the easygoing bossa, "Norma." The other number is the ballad "Dorothy's Endless Love" by Mike Friedman. Glenn's charts, while hardly unconventional, are never less than admirable, and he dresses the grizzled warhorse "Manteca" in some pleasing new finery. Glenn, who is heard most often, is a resourceful soloist, as are fellow trombonist O'Quinn, trumpeter Ouimette, saxophonists Wilson, Clouse and Perry, guitarist Cardenas and pianist Danko. If the ensemble lacks weight it is in the brass section, where the addition of a third trumpet would have enhanced its depth and firepower. But that's a minor blemish, as Ouimette and Laurie Frink play resolutely throughout. Everyone is on the same page, and the session swings easily yet emphatically from end to end.
Track Listing: Cheesehead; Manteca; Serenade to a Cuckoo; Norma; Footprints; Journeys; Dorothy's Endless Love; Caravan (62:49).
Personnel: Dave Glenn, trombone, composer, arranger; Chuck Wilson, alto sax; Rich Perry, tenor sax; Jim Clouse, tenor, soprano sax; Laurie Frink, Tim Ouimette, trumpet; Keith O'Quinn, trombone; George Flynn, bass trombone; Harold Danko, piano; Steve Cardenas, guitar; Dennis Irwin, bass; Mike Hyman, drums.