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For their second album, the talented Fatum brothers (twins, as it happens), Michael on trumpet, John on drums, introduced their admirable Jazz Orchestra to an appreciative audience at Chicago's venerable Jazz Showcase in July 2013 for a concert of mostly original compositions on which unbridled old-school swinging is the order of the day. Jazz standards by Benny Golson
("Donna Lee") and the Gershwin brothers' "They Can't Take That Away from Me" rub shoulders with themes by members of the ensemble including three by alto saxophonist Levi Saelua that first appeared on the brothers' debut album, Here to Say!
Trombonist Sam Crittenden wrote "Lazy Day" (which bears no resemblance to the '60s hit by Spanky and Our Gang), alto Michael Mull
the upbeat finale, "Think on It." Saelua, for his part, contributed "Rain on Sunday," "Mr. Q" and "Opening to the Sun," identified here only as "Movement II" (on the earlier album it was part of an Ellington / Strayhorn-inspired suite, ." . . and the Duke Called Him Swee' Pea"). "Sunday," a loping blues that serves as a showpiece for pianist Adam Kromelow
's two-minute unaccompanied bass solo, preceding a tantalizing alto-led ensemble passage and meaty solos by trumpeter Gabe Medd and tenor Ted Taforo.
"Stablemates," which breaks nicely from the gate and gallops easily along behind glossy statements by Medd and Mull, leads to "They Can't Take That Away," on which Michael Fatum fashions his only solo and Taforo follows suit. "Donna Lee," played at its usual breakneck tempo, embodies nimble solos by Taforo, Crittenden and Medd (who is seriously challenged on the coda). Saelua is out front for the only time on "Mr. Q" (for Quincy Jones?), DiGiovanna and trombonist Ray Mason on "Think on It." Saelua's "Movement II" opens to a charming Latin beat before modulating to a more straight-ahead groove to accommodate sharp solos by Taforo and Crittenden. Kromelow, Koch and John Fatum keep the rhythmic pulse strong, as they do on every number.
Live in Chicago marks another step forward for the Fatum Brothers Jazz Orchestra, adding the energy and excitement of a concert performance to the splendid studio-based album recorded three years earlier. Well worth hearing.
Track Listing: Stablemates; They Can’t Take That Away from Me; Movement II; Lazy Day; Donna Lee; Rain on Sunday; Mr. Q; Think on It.
Personnel: Michael Fatum: co-leader, trumpet; John Fatum: co-leader, drums; Garrett Schmidt: trumpet; Gabe Medd: trumpet; Tyler Kaneshiro: trumpet; Drew Hansen: trumpet; Michael Mull: alto sax; Levi Saelua:alto sax; Ted Taforo: tenor sax; Matt DiGiovanna: tenor sax; Owen Broder: baritone sax; David Binder: trombone; Ray Mason: trombone; Sam Crittenden: trombone; Adam Kromelow: piano; Jeff Koch: bass.