How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
I love a good big band. Especially when it swings like Count Basie. Trombonist Ryan Haines drives this big band with that same kind of laid-back groove, updating his charts with a contemporary flair and putting together a well balanced outfit to interpret his challenging arrangements. The leader's trombone soars fluidly overhead as he solos with a majestic spirit and brings everyone together for a cohesive program.
The mellow New Horizons starts off with Haines' trombone feature spinning leisurely over a light Latin rhythm. His fluid trombone voice and immaculate technique combine with deep feelings that allow him to communicate intuitively with his audience. Without You, a driving ballad with plenty of heart, features the leader's trombone in a groundswell of activity that pours its message fluidly with a contemporary air. Every time the trombonist climbs high above the instrument's normal range, you can feel the goose bumps taking over.
Haines solos on bass trombone for "Bottom End Shuffle alongside baritone saxophonist Doug Morgan. What a blast. Both bottom-end instrumentalists dig down deep and come up with a winner that swings. Guitarist Jim Roberts gives "A Problem with the Sun a classical Spanish tinge; trumpeters Tim Leahey and Rich Sigler add soft caresses. The piece spreads its message all through the band with a tenderly swinging, calming effect.
The powerful rocker No Harm, No Foul drives hard and fast, featuring Haines and tenor saxophonist Tedd Baker. Both players push with a crisp intensity that energizes the band like a shot of adrenaline, and they finish with fierce fours that set the house on fire.
Haines closes his program with a lovely arrangement of "America the Beautiful, a contemporary reflection on this patriotic hymn which features crystal clear harmonic voicing. Everything comes together on this highly recommended big band session, which explodes with creativity while providing musicianship of the highest caliber.
Track Listing: New Horizons; Swing Open; Without You; Bottom End Shuffle; A Problem With the Sun; Pan-Fried Noodles; Goodnight Story; No Harm, No Foul; America the Beautiful.
Personnel: Ryan Haines: tenor trombone, bass trombone, leader; Lucas Munce, Andy Axelrod: alto saxophone, flute; Tedd Baker, Dave Stump: tenor saxophone, flute; Doug Morgan: baritone saxophone, flute; Brian MacDonald, Kevin Burns, Rich Sigler, Tim Leahey: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jeff Margin, Ben Patterson: tenor trombone; Todd Hanson: bass trombone; Jim Roberts: guitar; Tony Nalker: piano; Paul Henry: bass; Steve Fidyk: drums.