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Ray Brown’s Great Big Band: Kayak (2010)

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Ray Brownâs Great Big Band: Kayak How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Not to be confused with the late, legendary bassist of the same name, San Francisco-based bandleader/arranger Ray Brown, an ex-trumpeter with the Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
and Full Faith & Credit Big Band big bands, drives his own nineteen-piece ensemble populated by the Bay Area's A-list musicians. Brown, whose percussionist father pioneered jazz education in the public schools of Long Beach, New York over seven decades ago, steadfastly maintains the legacy of the recently-deceased Canadian composer/arranger Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
1935 - 2010
trombone
in his deft yet swinging charts of Great American Songbook and contemporary jazz standards.

Cole Porter
Cole Porter
Cole Porter
1891 - 1964
composer/conductor
's "So In Love" (including an interpolation of Henry Mancini
Henry Mancini
Henry Mancini
b.1924
piano
's "Charade") kicks off the CD with lead altoist Mary Fettig, one of three Kenton alumni (the others are trumpeter Steve Campos and the leader) aboard, displaying her formidable solo abilities. Fettig also shines on "Indian Summer," along with Brown's brother Steve on guitar. The title track, by Canadian-born trumpeter Kenny Wheeler
Kenny Wheeler
Kenny Wheeler
1930 - 2014
trumpet
, showcases Steve Brown together with trumpet prodigy Erik Jekobsen. Tenor saxophonist Charlie McCarthy occupies center stage on "I Fall In Love Too Easily" (the Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn
Sammy Cahn
Sammy Cahn
1913 - 1993
composer/conductor
classic immortalized by Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
1915 - 1998
vocalist
and, later, Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
), and also contributes to Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been In Love Before" (from the original Broadway production of Guys and Dolls but sadly cut from the film version), which contains this album's lone vocal by Gail Dobson.

The five-man trombone section is featured individually and collectively in Frank Rosolino
Frank Rosolino
Frank Rosolino
1926 - 1978
trombone
's jazz waltz "Blue Daniel," while Oscar Pettiford
Oscar Pettiford
Oscar Pettiford
1922 - 1960
bass
's "Tricrotism" spotlights three-quarters of the rhythm section (guitarist Steve Brown, pianist Eddie Mendenhall, and bassist John Shifflett), backed by smooth woodwinds. Young Mendenhall also sparkles on Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
' standard, "Turn Out the Stars," and "Del Sasser," by the late bassist Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Sam Jones
1924 - 1981
bass, acoustic
.

Brown dedicates his chart on Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here to Stay" to his late brother, Glenn, Jr., and his wife, Barbara (this was their favorite tune), and showcases trombonist Dave Eshelman (Ray's colleague in Full Faith & Credit Big Band and erstwhile leader of his own Bay Area-based large ensemble) and tenorist Bennett Friedman, the latter of whom also delivers a blistering improvisation on John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's "Moment's Notice." Sergio Mendes
Sergio Mendes
Sergio Mendes
b.1941
piano
' ballad, "Song of No Regrets," presents Jekobsen, this time on flugelhorn, with the reed section beautifully led by Fettig on alto flute. Last, but most certainly not least, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
and Victor Feldman
Victor Feldman
Victor Feldman
1934 - 1987
multi-instrumentalist
's "Seven Steps to Heaven," carries the band out in a most swinging manner, complete with tongue-in-cheek quotes from Harold Arlen
Harold Arlen
Harold Arlen
1905 - 1986
composer/conductor
's "Ding-Dong, The Witch Is Dead!" and Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
's "Isn't She Lovely,," plus solo statements from McCarthy, trumpeter Don Beck, and, in his only solo, Los Angeles-based drummer Steve Houghton, who otherwise propels the band with great precision.

Track Listing: So In Love; Indian Summer; Kayak; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Blue Daniel; Del Sasser; Our Love Is Here to Stay; I've Never Been In Love Before; Turn Out the Stars; Tricrotism; Moment's Notice; Song of No Regrets; Seven Steps to Heaven

Personnel: Ray Brown: leader, arranger; Mary Fettig: lead alto, flute, alto flute; Paul Contos: alto, flute; Bennett Friedman: tenor, clarinet; Charlie McCarthy: tenor, clarinet; Paul Tarantino: tenor; Mike Young: baritone, bass clarinet; Rich Bice: lead trumpet, fluegelhorn; Steve Campos: trumpet, fluegelhorn; Don Beck: trumpet, fluegelhorn; Louis Fasman: trumpet, fluegelhorn; Erik Jakobsen: trumpet, fluegelhorn; John Gove: lead trombone; Dave Gregoric: trombone; Dave Eshelman: trombone; Dave Martell: trombone; Derek James: bass trombone; Steve Barnhill: bass trombone; Eddie Mendenhall: piano; Steve Brown: guitar; John Shifflett: bass; Steve Houghton: drums

Record Label: Brown Cats Productions


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