Chuck Owen & the Jazz Surge / Swiss Jazz Orchestra / The Aggregation
The rhythmic ambience is embedded immediately on Allen's bustling "Groove's Mood" and bouncy "Brasilia" and the bluesy spiritual, "Wade in the Water." Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" introduces vocalist LaTanya Hall who not only subdues that unwieldy lyric but scores again on another of Wonder's hit songs, "My Cherie Amour." "Sunshine" is reprised as an instrumental that closes the session. As for Allen, he solos admirably on the ballad "Tenderly," Freddie Hubbard's buoyant "Sky Dive" and the laid-back "Cherie Amour."
"The Black Coming" is comprised of four movements (Kidnapped / Servitude / Jubilation / Enslaved) that presumably are designed to express in musical terms the black experience in America. The tone poem traverses the gamut of human emotions, enriching spirited solos by pianist Bruce Barth, trombonist Clifton Anderson, alto saxophonist David Glasser and trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater. Completing the program is James Williams' "The Soulful Mr. Timmons," a warm salute to the days when Blue Note Records was riding high and composer / pianist Bobby Timmons was a master of the funk- and blues-based vernacular.
Adams is an accomplished arranger, the ensemble is well-groomed, the soloists engaging and resourceful. Besides those mentioned, they include alto Tia Fuller, tenors Jay Brandford and Patience Higgins, baritone Howard Johnson, trumpeters John Bailey and Guido Gonzales, trombonist Sam Burtis, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Carl Allen who anchors the band's grade A rhythm section. Groove's Mood marks a splendid starting point for The Aggregation, which one hopes may continue on its groove-charted course.
New York Repertory Jazz Orchestra
Le Jazz Hot
Le Jazz Hot is composer / conductor / trumpeter Bill Warfield's warm-hearted salute to Paris, the soprano saxophone in general and its leading exponent in the 1930s, Sidney Bechet, in particular. Bechet's best-known composition, "Le Petit Fleur," is performed no less than four times in various contexts. Guest soprano David Liebman, a Bechet / John Coltrane disciple, is showcased throughout, and wrote "Pablo's Story," dedicated to the renowned impressionist Pablo Picasso who for many years made his home in Paris. Warfield arranged French composer Darius Milhaud's "Le Creation du Monde" for the New York Jazz Repertory Orchestra and composed "Variations on a Theme by Frank Poulanc" and "Creataloop." Completing the program is Coltrane's easygoing "Blues to Bechet."
Few jazz fans would be likely to list "Le Petite Fleur" as a personal favorite (at least, not the Acker Bilk version of many years ago). The first of these four essays showcases Liebman's unaccompanied soprano sax, and is followed without pause by Tim Sessions' chorale-like arrangement for the ensemble. The third reading, a gentle tango, interlaces Warfield's trumpet, Liebman's soprano and the ensemble, while the fourth, which closes the album, is an even-tempered discourse between Liebman and pianist Tim Harrison. In sum, far more memorable and engaging than Bilk's more syrupy popular rendition.