John Fedchock: New York Big Band
The liner notes are well-written and point out that this big band grew out of the last Woody Herman band. Fedchock has done all the arranging and takes a fair number of solos; he's good. Three of the numbers, "Limehouse Blues," "Blues Du Jour", and "Nightshades" start out with just a piano trio and build from that. I like to hear something like that; different from the ordinary big band format. "Nightshades" is particularly interesting because it returns to the piano trio format near the end and then closes with the whole band softly turning it over. This is in contrast to most of the arrangements, that rely on building higher and louder and higher and louder until the finish.
Baritone saxophonist Scott Robinson shines on "Limehouse Blues" and "Blues Du Jour"; he takes the instrument to its full range and blows. Fedchock solos on five of the tracks, so you get a pretty good idea of his ability. He shows sensitivity and warmth on ballads, such as "Ruby, My Dear", and great technique on the hard bop numbers, such as "Flintstoned". Fedchock's produced quite an interesting arrangement of the old Fred Flintstone television theme, changing keys in each of the first dozen measures or so. Trumpeter Greg Gisbert and altoist Mark Vinci have remarkably hard-driving solos on this number to keep the edge intact. The other superior number on this disc is "Caravan", with the congas of Jerry Gonzalez and the drum kit of Dave Radajczak lighting the fires initially. It's interesting that the bass drum and larger tom-tom are tuned with loose heads to make the sound blend better with the timbre of the bass; it's a great effect. Rick Margitza's tenor solo has a unique modern sound, and this simple arrangement of the standard melody over a strong rhythmic undercurrent make "Caravan" stand out.