Big Band Bow–Tie, which hails from southwestern Germany, is led by flugelhorn maestro Karl Farrent, a mainspring in that country’s SWR Big Band and BBB–T’s most accomplished soloist. As is true of almost every German band we’ve heard, Bow–Tie is in sync all the way, but the recording itself leaves much to be desired, shrouding the ensemble in a reverberant “concert hall” cocoon that tempers the sound and lessens its over–all impact. Farrent and the other soloists rise above that impediment, but the band itself is not as well–served, making a precise assessment of its strengths and weaknesses an exceedingly thorny proposition. What we can report with assurance is that Farrent is a resourceful improviser, as are clarinetist Stefan Schreiber (on Farrent’s composition, “Dudley”) and guest guitarist (and co–producer) Klaus–Peter Schöpfer. Jonas Kuhn (soprano on Farrent’s “Samba de Borboleta,” alto on “Sweet Emma”) is a step or two removed from their realm of proficiency. Farrent solos on half a dozen selections including his back–handed salute to tenor Bob Mintzer, “The Piece Bob Didn’t Write” — which sounds much like a piece Bob did
write, “New Mambo” — the Sinatra favorite “All the Way” and Gene DePaul / Johnny Mercer’s winsome ballad from the Broadway musical Li’l Abner,
“Namely You.” Of the band’s two vocalists, Maria Beg and Ala Heiler, Beg is the more successful, displaying excellent power and control on a trio of Latin–centered numbers, “Mas Que Nada,” “My Friend” and “Agua de Beber.” Heiler sings reasonably well on “Everything But You,” Nat Adderley / Oscar Brown Jr.’s “Work Song” and Peggy Lee’s “When I Found You,” but six vocals are, in this listener’s opinion, well above the tolerable ceiling on any big–band album. In sum, a mixed bag, with fairly high marks for the soloists, especially Farrent; passable scores for the singers, and a below–average grade for recording and mixing.
Personnel: Karl Farrent, leader, trumpet, flugelhorn; Stefan Schreiber, Jonas Kuhn, Clemens Kossock, Thomas Hornberger, Sascha Henke, Christian Scheidler, reeds; J