As a reviewer, I've always felt that the music bands choose to play is up to them; my basic concern is this: do they play it well? The verdict in this case is by and large positive. These are competent musicians, make no mistake about that, and there's no doubting their earnestness. On the other hand, the recording itself earns only a lukewarm grade. It's generally transparent enough, with the rhythm section clearly audible, but the trumpet section doesn't fare quite as well, sounding at times thin and harsh. Also, the sound quality varies from track to track (I don't know if there was more than one recording session), with the contrast most noticeable on "What a Friend We Have in Jesus.
The charts are essentially praiseworthy (no pun intended), proving again that almost any well-written music lends itself to a big-band treatment. Besides those by Carmichael, there are two arrangements by the masterful Chris McDonald ("Blessed Assurance, "What a Friend ) and one each by Neil Slater ("Lead On O King Eternal ), Michael Brown ("Go Where I Send Thee ) and Richard Hunt ("O God Our Help in Ages Past ). "Send Thee is rather peculiar, as it ends so abruptly in the middle of John Gordon's alto solo that one could assume either the tape had run out or the studio time had elapsed.
Speaking of soloists, they're respectable if not especially inventive, with decorous comments by Gordon, trombonists Art Ruangtip and Mike Andrewartha, trumpeter Jeff Taylor and tenor Alan Holley. There are no solos on the last three numbers, including the tenth track, an unnamed minute-long "bonus song that isn't listed on the album's jacket or tray. There's a vocal chorus by members of the band on "Gonna Go Back.
If music is indeed food for the soul, Jazz I.N.C. has prepared an appetizing banquet, one that should please most fans of big band jazz, no matter what their belief or religious point of view.
Track Listing: Lead on O King Eternal; Blessed Assurance; Go Where I Send Thee; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; O God Our Help in Ages Past; Peace in the Valley; A Quiet Place; Be Still My Soul; Gonna Go Back (33:39).
Personnel: Terry Hager, Jeff Taylor, Rob Lipscomb, Mark Witten: trumpet; John Gordon, Jeff Hashe, Alan Holley, Richard Hunt, Jim Carter, Chris Bond: reeds; Art Ruangtip, Mike Andrewartha, Lee Russell, Bill Franklin, Mike Browning: trombone; Dave Zoller: piano; Paul Doyle: guitar; Rich Glass: bass; Scott Weltner: drums.
Record Label: Jazz I.N.C.
Style: Big Band
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