How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Although the era of the gig-to-gig road-traveling big band is defunct, save for a few ghost bands, fine regional big bands continue to thrive around the United States. From Los Angeles, killer bands such as Gordon Goodwin
's and others still fill venues with swinging jazz. The road may beckon, but, the economics nowadays don't.
Nor'easter , the debut CD from Maine's Portland Jazz Orchestra, continues and heralds the big band tradition in a marvelously entertaining, no-frills manner. Leader and fine trombonist Chris Oberholtzer
has pulled together some of New England's best players and writers. With talent onboard to challenge some of the studio musician-comprised bands above, the PJO shines and draws positive comparisons. The music offered is intelligent, enjoyable and swinging.
The selections in Nor'easter are eclectic, with a bit of everything old and new. Benny Golson
's "Carmelo's by the Freeway." All in all, the eight selections provide quality, not quantity; although the performances here are so good more would be marvelous.
In meteorological terms, a nor'easter describes a weather eventa storm of rain, wind, and biting chill. With Nor'easter, Portland Jazz Orchestra does, indeed, storm on with terrific charts, absolutely first-rate ensemble work and inspired solo playing that combines for a heavy downpour of talent and swing. Bundle up.
Track Listing: Killer Joe; It's A Waltz ... Man; Goin' Outside; The Vending Machine Isn't Broke (The Light Just don't Work); Anna's Song; Paquito's Revenge; One for Philippe; Carmelo's by the Freeway.
Personnel: Sean Potter: alto sax (lead); Kyle Hardy: alto sax (lead 6); David Wells: tenor sax; Marc LaForce: tenor sax; Larry Williams: baritone sax; Chris Oberholtzer: trombone (lead); Willie Johnson: trombone; Mark Manduca: trombone (lead 4); Tom Michaud: bass trombone; Doug Owens: trumpet (lead 2, 4-7); Bill Karow: trumpet (lead 1, 3, 8); Craig Skeffington: trumpet; Chris MArsh: trumpet; Terry White: trumpet; Chris Humphrey: piano; Kim Bird: bass; Brad Ciechomski: drums.