Mark Masters Ensemble: Porgy & Bess Redefined! (2005)
As with his previous projects, this in not a showcase for individual players, although there is ample time for all principals to provide sparking solo work. Masters has provided a rich foundation to display these well-known compositions. The Lindberg/Chicago Jazz Orchestra team beautifully updated the Gil Evans arrangement in today's sonic environment, leaving Clark Terry's masterful trumpet work to shine; Masters has taken the 1959 classic one step further by adding additional colorations which allow for rich orchestral work as well as smaller ensemble swing.
The most prominent solo opportunities are given to tenor saxophonist Billy Harper and trumpeter Tim Hagans. Harper plays in largely a mainstream setting, with some use of free jazz, and Hagan's pure tone is heard throughout the album. Harper's solo on "A Woman Is A Sometime Thing" is a work of beauty. Pianist Cecilia Coleman also excels on that selection. Gary Smulyan's baritone sax work on "I Loves You Porgy" is outstanding. Additional solo work from flutist Don Shelton and trombonist Dave Woodley is also well presented.
There is also a series of brief free jazz appearances on this project. The album opens with a brief burst of outer sounds, which also appear during the course of "Gone Gone Gone," where the tone poem quality morphs into bursts of outside jazz from Harper and Hagans. However, this is indeed a very small price to pay for the finished product.
Track Listing: Introduction, Summertime, A Woman Is A Sometime Thing, Gone Gone Gone, My Man's Gone Now, I Loves You Porgy, A Red Headed Woman, Clara Clara, There's A Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon For New York.
Personnel: Mark Masters, arranger/conductor; Billy Harper, tenor sax; Tim Hagans, trumpet; Gary Smulyan, baritone sax; Dave Woodley, trombone; Cecilia Coleman, piano; Ray Drummond, bass; Joe La Barbera, drums; Don Shelton, alto flute, soprano and tenor sax; John Riley, bassoon,tenor sax; Stephanie O'Keefe, French horn; Bob Carr, bass clarinet; Greg Huckins, bass clarinet; Tom Delibero,Louiss Fasman,Les Lovitt,trumpet; Les Benedict,trombone; Bill Roper,tuba.