How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
A native of Toledo, OH, now residing in LA, with a day job as an attorney, Gary Urwin has fulfilled a dream of taking a big band into a recording studio. And big it is, with 24 pieces in tow. With increasing interest in big bands these days, it behooves a newcomer to offer something different to find a niche. Urwin accomplishes this by, first, offering an enticing play list of 14 tunes with a balanced mix of good, solid standards with his original compositions. Second, Urwin's orchestrations tend to be quite striking and refreshing. Third, and important, Urwin mixes up the music, that is, he avoids getting into a stylistic rut which often happens with a big band. There are the usual take no prisoners barn burners like "Somebody Loves Me". But Urwin is smart enough not to put all his eggs in that basket offering as well rock tinged R & B with "Oncoming Traffic" featuring Frank Browne's funky guitar and a kick `em in the tail alto by Kim Richmond. The band becomes downright romantic and sentimental with "When You Wish upon a Star" with an uncommonly tender Pete Christlieb tenor sax leading the way. There's a taste of modern jazz with a classic bent on Legacy" and you can cha-cha-cha to "Chucho". The album's coda is a touching Paul Chipello piano solo reprise of "I'm Old Fashioned".
The main ingredient which brings full flavor to big band jazz meal, good musicians, is in abundance. Many devotees of this jazz form will recognize names like Christlieb, Bob Efford, Richmond, Frank Szabo, Andy Martin, Wayne Bergeron and others who are frequently found on albums coming from the West Coast. These top rank players show their skills in the tight ensemble work which dominates this album as well as when they are put into the solo spotlight.
Just when you think that you have heard just about everything a big band can offer, along comes a Gary Urwin with a few fresh ideas to reinvigorate ones interest. I guess that's why big band music is not likely to ever die. Recommended.
Track Listing: I'm old Fashioned; Stormy Weather; Something the Cat Dragged In; When You Wish upon a Star; Chucho; Legacy; Sky Dive; Blues on Ice; You Must Believe in Spring; Somebody Loves Me; Beauty and the Beast; Oncoming Traffic; Vegas d'Oro; I'm old Fashioned (Reprise)
Personnel: Gary Urwin - Leader/Arranger; Kim Richmond - Soprano & Alto Sax/Flute; Rusty Higgins - Soprano & Alto Sax/Flute/Alto Flute/Clarinet; Pete Christlieb - Tenor Sax/Flute; Ray Reed - Tenor Sax/Flute/Clarinet; Bob Efford - Baritone Sax/Bass Clarinet/Flute; Ethmer Roten - Flute; David Shamban - Cello; Alex Iles, Andy Martin, Dave Woodley - Trombone; Steve Ferguson - Bass Trombone; Wayne Bergeron, Rick Baptist, Bobby Burns, Frank Szabo, Ron King - Trumpet/Flugelhorn; George Graham - Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Piccolo Trumpet; Paul Chipello, Brian O'Rourke - Piano; Frank Browne - Guitar; Trey Henry - Bass; Ralph Razze - Drums; Michito Sanchez, David Johnson - Percussion