Imagine a painter, sculptor or writer attempting to recreate a masterpiece done by a Picasso, Michelangelo or Shakespeare. The task redefines challenge and chutzpah. While jazz recreations are more common than those in other artsClark Terry
and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra's marvelous revisit (Americana Music, 2004) of the Miles Davis
' Porgy and Bess
(Columbia, 1958), for examplelittle recreated music has equaled the excellence of its original source material better than the Westchester Jazz Orchestra's Maiden Voyage Suite
In the mid-sixties, pianist Herbie Hancock
recruited other members of the Miles Davis Quintet to deliver a concept recording of five elegantly textured pieces, all depicting tonal seascapes, Maiden Voyage
(Blue Note, 1965). 36 years later, this group of New York's finest players has taken up Hancock's classic album, saluting to and expanding on the original, and ultimately displaying what is possible when great source material is enhanced by terrific arranger-composers and performed by outstanding musicians.
Vividly reminiscent of the Davis/Evans collaborations, the Thad Jones
- Mel Lewis
Orchestra, and the suites of Duke Ellington
, writer-arrangers Mike Holober
, Pete McGuinness
, Jay Brandford
and Tony Kadleck
have created a multi-segment suite parlayed from Hancock's classic. These writers leverage Maiden Voyage
's suspended chord undercurrent, the iconic three note call and five-note response patterns with startling creativity. Their intricate ensemble lines, lushly orchestrated backgrounds and soli segments demand, and get the most out of this talented group. And, when the embellished motifs appear, fade and return, they bring new light. Played as magnificently as done here, the result is epic.
Lead trumpeters Kadleck and Craig Johnson captain the group's superior ensemble playing and power the challenging material. The respective brass, woodwind and rhythm sections wail. Ted Rosenthal
lends an Impressionistic piano touch and well-developed solo excursions. Harvie S
' bass is a profound voice throughout, and drummer Andy Watson
's time, percussive drive and nuanced cymbal work shimmers and glints.
Like the aforementioned Ellington band, this group frames stellar soloists. Trumpeters Marvin Stamm
and Jim Rotondi
swirl about, genuflecting at the altar of Freddie Hubbard
who was present on the original 1965 recordingwhile adding their own respective creative brilliance. Saxophonists Brandford, David Brandon, Jason Rigby
and Ralph Lalama
each extrapolate and offer up highly inventive and expressive ideas.
The oceans of the Earth spewed forth creation and beckoned Man's exploration. Maiden Voyage Suite
by the Westchester Jazz Orchestra creatively honors Hancock's classic work and discovers new vistas of its own. It is both an exploration and a tsunami of excellence.
Personnel: Jay Brandford: alto and soprano saxophones; David Brandon: alto and
soprano saxophones; Ralph Lalama: tenor saxophone; Jason Rigby: tenor
saxophone; Ed Xiques: baritone saxophone; Tony Kadleck: trumpet,
flugelhorn; Craig Johnson: trumpet, flugelhorn; Marvin Stamm:
trumpet, flugelhorn; Jim Rotundi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Larry
Dean Farrell: trombone; Keith O'Quinn: trombone; Bruce Eiden:
trombone; George Flynn: bass trombone; Ted Rosenthal: piano; Harvie S:
bass; Andy Watson: drums; Mike Holober: artistic director and