Bob Florence Limited Edition / Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band / Dana Legg Stage Band / John Burnett Swing Orchestra
Aside from Vosbein's, the songs were arranged either by Pete Rugolo (five) or Bob Graettinger (two). Rugolo composed "Artistry in Gillespie," "Rhythms at Work" and "Hambeth," Graettinger "Cuban Pastorale." It's hard to comprehend why any of them isn't better known or performed more often. Vosbein's five works are no less engaging, from the high-flying "Crows in Tuxedos" to the sonorous "Real Princess," which emphatically rings down the curtain. Vosbein also wrote "Jumping Monkey," "Ahora es el Tiempo" (Where Is the Tempo) and "Odin's Dream" and arranged Stephen Sondheim's "Johanna," while Rugolo arranged Claude Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun" and the standard "Don't Blame Me," Graettinger "Walkin' by the River."
As noted, this is a concert performance, and while the sound and balance are by and large admirable, there are some brief passages on "Crows" wherein the trombones seem disconnected from the rest of the orchestra, almost as if playing in another room. Otherwise, everything is keen and peachywhich also describes the orchestra and its soloists. For a regional ensemble, the KJO is remarkably accomplished, and takes to these demanding charts like ducks to water. The soloists pull their weight as well. Alto Doug Rinaldo is showcased on "Faun," trumpeter Michael Spirko on "Cuban Pastorale," trombonists Don Hough and Tom Lundberg on "Hambeth" and "Odin's Dream," respectively, with other convincing statements by saxophonists David King, Alan Wyatt and Tom Johnson; trumpeters Rich Willey, Van Thompson and Stewart Cox;, trombonist Bill Huber, guitarist Mark Bolin, pianist Bill Swann, bassist Rusty Holloway and drummer Keith Brown.
This is Progressive Jazz in the best sense of the word: advanced, forward-moving and enlightening but in no wise pretentious or self-absorbed. Vosbein has chosen the music with care, and the KJO has brought it to life with dexterity and elegance. An admirable performance from end to end.
Mt. Hood Jazz Band and Combos
2nd Time Around
Sea Breeze Vista
2nd Time Around is actually the sixth time around in as many yearsin a recording studiofor director Susie Jones and the Mt. Hood College Jazz Band from mid-size Gresham, Oregon. This album, showcasing the Class of 2009, includes nine tracks by the larger ensemble, one each by the smaller Combo A and Combo B. As on the earlier recordings, Jones's undergrads are impressively sharp and focused.
The band enters Basie-style with pianist Manny Chester and bassist Erik Wheeler setting the stage for Hank Hirsh's "A Buck and Some Change"congenial solos courtesy of tenor Sam Solano and alto Michelle Christiansen. There are two scurrying flag-wavers, Herbie Phillips' "An Apple for Christa," featuring Chester, tenor Luke Tarter and guitarist Solomon Thelin, A.K. Salim's Latin-style "Cannonology" (solos by trumpeter Ted Yanez, alto Ryan Carlson, trombonist J.J. Meyer) and one vocal, by sultry Liv Warfield, on Hoagy Carmichael's bluesy "Georgia on My Mind."
Chester and Thelin are tasteful on Canadian Rick Wilkins' splendid arrangement of Clare Fischer's melodic "Pensativa," while Solano shines on "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," Christiansen on Duke Ellington / Billy Strayhorn's exotic "Half the Fun." The band's other pianist, Sam Hirsch, is persuasive on Ellen Rowe's flowing arrangement of "It Might As Well Be Spring," trumpeter Nick Nera likewise on Billy Byers' irrepressible take on "The Second Time Around." Combo A (a septet) unshackles Paul Desmond's "Take Five," Combo B (a nonet) Wayne Shorter's "Adam's Apple."
If there were any lingering doubts that Susie Jones has nourished former director Dave Barduhn's legacy by endorsing a strong jazz performance program at Mt. Hood, a few short miles from metro Portland, the Jazz Band's superb series of albums under her direction should have erased them by now. 2nd Time Around further enriches that legacy.
Garabatos Volume One
While far removed from a positive catastrophe, the music on Garbatos Volume 1 may be anomalous and challenging to unschooled ears. On the other hand, it no doubt sounds perfectly natural to those who are playing it, as well as to others whose sensibility is more deeply attuned to its equivocal nuances.