Roosevelt Jazz '97: Behind the Eight Ball
I received this disc with a note from one of the band members saying how proud they are of it - as well they should be. It's such a kick to hear young men and women devoting their time and talents to the furtherance of Jazz, even when it's evident that they are of high-school age and in the early stages of honing their skills. Roosevelt High School, in Seattle, Washington, has an admirable Jazz program (directed by Scott Brown) that deserves applause for giving some of its musically-endowed students this important creative outlet. More applause is due (both literally and figuratively) for recording Behind the Eight Ball in front of an audience; it's never too early to acquaint young musicians with the excitement (and trepidation) of playing in front of real live people (whose unwavering eyes can cause perspiration to appear and stomachs to churn). Yes, there are a number of ragged edges and false steps here, but listening to the dedication with which these young players approach the task at hand, one knows that time and woodshedding will most certainly iron them out. Today the passion; tomorrow the chops. There are nine instrumental tracks on Eight Ball, and five vocals by various configurations of the 16-member vocal ensemble. The band fares best on Dizzy's "Manteca" (nice tenor solo by Mike Dodge), Sonny Rollins' "Airegin" (Dodge, tenor; Andy Coe, guitar; Chuck Baxter, trumpet), Frank Foster's "Who Me" (this time with Chris Johansen on tenor), and the blues "Sig Ep" (introduced by pianist Mike Allen), with drummer Jay Lepley kicking hard on each of them. Another estimable high-school Jazz program, and if these young musicians choose to give themselves a pat on the back it is assuredly well-deserved.
Track Listing: Who Me; The Second Time Around; Stolen Moments; Airegin; Sig Ep; Come Home; The Big Sur; Rhoid's Blues; Cute; Swingin' the Blues; Time for a Change; Nice and Easy; I Knew You'd Go; Manteca (74:03).
Personnel: Scott Brown, director; Mike Dodge, Colin Hume, Chris Johansen, Jack Rutledge, Dan Sloan, saxophones; Nick Barr, Kelly Clingan, Eric deLangen, Charlie Wilson, trombones; C
Style: Big Band