Bob Florence Limited Edition / Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band / Dana Legg Stage Band / John Burnett Swing Orchestra
There's no need to endorse the soloists, as they include trumpeters Hargrove, Greg Gisbert and Claudio Roditi; saxophonists Moody, Jimmy Heath, Antonio Hart, Mark Gross and Gary Smulyan; trombonists Michael Dease and Jason Jackson, bass trombonist Doug Purviance, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, guitarist Yotam Silberstein (not listed in the personnel credits) and bassist / executive director John Lee. Music director Slide Hampton doesn't use his trombone but arranged "'Round Midnight," "Manteca" and "Lover Come Back to Me."
The high spots (aside from Gambarini's always pleasing vocals) are Salim's animated "Dizzy's Blues" (buoyant solos courtesy of Hargrove, Dease, Chestnut and Gisbert), Dorham's Afro-Latin "Una Mas" (smartly arranged by Heath to underscore incisive comments by Gross, Purviance and Smulyan), Hargrove's ballad feature ("I Can't Get Started," arranged by John "Doc" Wilson) and Gil Fuller's loping version of "Tin Tin Deo" (showcasing Moody, Smulyan and Roditi). Fuller also arranged Gillespie / Ray Brown's venerable "One Bass Hit," whose able soloists are Lee, Hargove, Hart and Jackson.
In sum, a remarkably proficient and invariably engaging second outing by the suitably named All-Stars. Recommendedbut not the equal of Dizzy's Business.
Dana Legg Stage Band
The Other One
Sea Breeze Records
More than 11 years after recording his first album, Boneheads, trombonist Dana Legg has at long last marshaled the time and resources to complete a second. The Other One, freshly minted by Legg's exemplary Chicago-based Stage Band, is so consistently impressive it makes the lengthy interval between the two seem almost bearable.
Actually, The Other One (whose title song by pianist Ron Mills is a tribute to the great Bob Florence) was recorded in two sessions spaced five years apart, as Legg was repeatedly sidetracked by other concerns. In spite of the inescapable changes in personnel, the ensemble is eager and ready in each instance. Even though no reinforcements were needed, Legg was more than happy to welcome as guest artists a duo of dynamic saxophonists, baritone Bob Centano (in whose band Legg has played for years) on Nick Lane's "Satisfaction Guaranteed," and tenor Mark Colby, a longtime standout in Rob Parton's estimable JazzTech Big Band, who is heard on three numbers including his own composition, "Riley's Thang" (with Legg and fellow tenor Mark Tuttle). Colby sparkles there as well as on Mark Taylor's expressive "Lonely Tears" and Gordon Goodwin's buoyant arrangement of "Take the 'A' Train."
Mills arranged the standard "Stella by Starlight," on which his eloquent piano is featured, while Legg has the spotlight to himself on "Georgia on My Mind," trumpeter Randy Karon on Roger Neumann's "Too Nice." There is one vocal, by seductive Colette Hazek on Johnny Mercer's "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive." Legg wrote and arranged "Father's Day" (for his father, Norman Legg, and trumpeter Maynard Ferguson) and "Memorial Day," which combines elements of "Taps" and "Auld Lang Syne." Trumpeter Bill Calkins solos on "Father's Day," trumpeter Ivo Braun and pianist Lou Cucunato on "Memorial Day." Completing the program are "I'll Take Romance" (Gary Parker, alto; Doug Schuler, trumpet), "Time After Time" (Mark Burnell, piano; Dave Gross, trombone), and Taylor's rhythmic "Latin Reaction" (Debbie Katz-Knowles, drums; Mark Fechner, baritone sax; Brad Ard, guitar).
The Other one weaves a handsome portrait of a talented contemporary big band. Let's hope we don't have to wait 11 more years before another one is designed.
John Burnett Swing Orchestra
West of State Street / East of Harlem
So as not to mislead, let's describe things as they are: not the John Burnett Swing Orchestra, but rather the John Burnett Orchestra That Really Swings. That should give a clearer idea of what's afoot in this animated concert session. Even though there are backward glances, Burnett's 10 year old Chicago-based ensemble is by no means enmeshed in the swing era; to be more explicit, this is late-model big-band jazz that swings freely and often, and is greatly enhanced by the presence of the talented and versatile trumpeter Randy Sandke who solos on seven of the album's 16 tracks.