I just can't help but feel that the outlook for big band jazz keeps improving with every new release that hits the shelves these days. This new album by the Ryan Haines Big Band confirms my perception. With nine tasteful charts ranging from contemporary to swing, from blistering to mellow, there's plenty of heart and heat to enjoy on New Horizons.
Trombonist Ryan Haines, a former member of the Falconaires, a component of the Air Force Band of the Rockies, recruited members of two service bands, the Air Force Airmen of Note and the US Army Blues Band, for this project. A consumate composer and arranger, Haines arranged all of the selections and penned all but Samuel Ward's "America The Beautiful."
The bandleader makes an immediate immpression with the up-tempo starter, "New Horizons," where, as the liner notes state, he "..shows off his polished ad-libbing skills." The trombonist pays homage to the big band swing era with the light and bouncy sounce of "Swing Open." Both the album and the tune "Without You," where the leader makes an appropriately strong and pronounced presence on the trombone, are dedicated to the memory of his late nephew, Mathew David Haines. Following this emotional piece, Haines takes flight on the bass trombone with "Bottom End Shuffle," where he makes room for the deep baritone of Doug Morgan.
The band plays fast and furious on the quick-moving "No Harm, No Foul," featuring a hot and heavy duel of sorts between Haines on the bones and Tedd Baker on tenor. On the warm, trombone-driven ballad "Goodnight Story" we're treated to a nice serving of soft and mellow melodies. Haines rounds out the program with a patriotic tribute in the form of an emotional yet very hip treatment of "America The Beautiful."
While this is the group's second album for Sea Breeze Records (2001's To The Sky was the first), it strectches beyond the boundaries of the earlier tribute to the US Air Force. With a sharp and vigorous performance by his hand-picked crew complimenting the many voices of his trombone, Haines engineers a persuasive and formidable recording with New Horizons.
Personnel: Ryan Haines: bandleader & trombone; Lucas Munce, Andy Axelrod: alto saxophone; Tedd Baker, Dave Stump: tenor saxophone; Doug Morgan: baritone saxophone; Brian MacDonald, Kevin Burns, Rich Sigler, Tim Leahey: trumpet & flugelhorn; Jeff Martin, Ben Patterson, Tod Hanson: trombone; Jim Roberts: guitar; Tony Nalker: piano; Paul Henry: bass; Steve Fidyk: drums.