The Texas Christian University Jazz Ensemble: Classic Mix (2002)
Another first–class college–level Jazz Studies program (what else is new?), this one deep in the heart of Texas and making wonderful music on the third album we’ve heard under the baton of long–time director Curt Wilson. The TCU Jazz Ensemble is bolstered on “Everybody Loves My Baby” by the presence of pianist Shelly Berg and trombonist Bill Watrous, and on “Lover Man” and Monk’s “Rhythmin’” [“Rhythm–a–ning”] by the late great trumpeter Conte Candoli, to whom the album is dedicated. While the undergrads have no soloists in their ranks who can compare notes with that formidable trio (alto Mark Lara comes closest), the ensemble as a whole acquits itself remarkably well on these dozen numbers, recorded between March ’01–March ’02 before appreciative audiences at TCU’s Ed Landreth Auditorium. Rigorous attention is paid to pacing and dynamics, and there’s power to spare thanks to a roaring but well–disciplined brass section and impassioned drumming by Jordan Richardson or Eric Navratil. The trombones are especially admirable on Bob Curnow’s toothsome “Bone Appetit.” Curnow arranged the brief opening selection, “America the Beautiful” (a nod no doubt to the events of September 11, 2001). Rounding out the program are Gordon Goodwin’s “Sing Sang Sung,” Bill Holman’s “The Git,” Neal Hefti’s “Cute” (arranged by Bob Mintzer), Mintzer’s “Weird Blues,” Frank Foster’s “Down for the Count,” Matt Catingub’s “Mission to Monterey” and John Watson’s arrangement of Juan Tizol’s “Caravan.” Holman arranged “Lover Man,” Paul McKee “Rhythmin’,” Tom Kubis “Everybody Loves My Baby.” The ensemble cruises through each of them with a minimum of sweat and a maximum of awareness. Even though most of the soloists don’t quite reach that level of proficiency, it would have been nice to name them anyway (only Berg, Watrous, Candoli and faculty member / tenor saxophonist Greg Jones, who solos on “Rhythmin’,” are mentioned). One can deduce from the personnel listing that John Valentino, George Cornelius and Donnie Pinson solo on trombone, Justin Barbee and Daniel Hardaway on trumpet, Lara on alto sax, Todd Alonso on tenor, Jeff Dazey on baritone. When all is said and done, a Classic Mix by a classy Jazz ensemble whose reputation as one of the country’s best (as noted by Down Beat magazine, among others) seems well–earned and quite suitable.
Contact: Sea Breeze Records, P.O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448–1910. Phone 818–489–2055.
Web site: www.seabreezejazz.com .
Track Listing: America the Beautiful; Sing, Sang, Sung; Everybody Loves My Baby; The Git; Cute; Lover Man; Rhythmin
Personnel: Curt Wilson, director; Wes Zercher, Wasey Herbort, Justin Barbee, Garth Ramsey, Eric Rodgers, Daniel Hardaway, Ann Daleiden, trumpet; John Valentino, Paul Russell, George Cornelius, Donnie Pinson, Scott Sunde, Justin Williams, Reagan Brumley, trombone; Ryan Dunning, Rich Collins, bass trombone; Mark Lara, alto, soprano sax, flute; Aron Lee, Wyatt Harris, alto sax; Todd Alonso, John Dyer, Brandon Pitt, tenor sax; Jeff Dazey, tenor, baritone sax; Justin Lucero, baritone sax; Michael Riggs, James Buckner, piano; Bryce Harp, guitar; Jeremy Hull, James Mick, bass; Jordan Richardson, Eric Navratil, drums. Guest artists