All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Big Band Caravan

Chuck Owen & the Jazz Surge / Swiss Jazz Orchestra / The Aggregation

By Published: October 1, 2009
As for "Le Creation," which features the orchestra's tasteful drummer, Grisha Alexiev, Milhaud arguably never sounded as melodic or accessible as he does here. The same could be said of Poulenc, whose unnamed theme is expertly transcribed by Warfield and the NYJRO and enhanced by Liebman's virile tenor and Sessions' agile trombone. Liebman also plays tenor on the shuffling "Creataloop" (reminiscent of Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
1938 - 1972
trumpet
's "Sidewinder"), on which he shares blowing space with trumpeter Dave Ballou
Dave Ballou
Dave Ballou

trumpet
. Bassist Mike Richmond
Mike Richmond
b.1948
introduces "Blues to Bechet," whose earnest solos are fashioned by Liebman, Alexiev and guitarist Vic Juris
Vic Juris
Vic Juris
b.1953
guitar
who in turn has the first word on "Pablo's Story." Liebman follows on soprano, underscoring his bond to Coltrane.

While Bechet's music—not to mention Poulenc and Milhaud's—may be an acquired taste, there is no doubt that Warfield, Liebman and the Jazz Repertory Orchestra have accomplished what they set out to do. Whether that earns the listener's approval remains to be seen—and heard. Even though skillfully performed, the music swings only randomly, a trait that some may find off-putting. On the other hand, Warfield's approach to atypical compositions by Bechet and the others is admirable and refreshing. What tips the scales in either direction will no doubt be personal preference.

Ed Palermo Big Band
Eddy Loves Frank
Cuneiform Records
2009

The title of Ed Palermo

Ed Palermo
Ed Palermo

band/orchestra
's latest album is hardly an overstatement; this is the Palermo big band's third anthology of music by the late Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
1940 - 1993
guitar, electric
, who was best known as a rocker but dabbled in various musical forms from jazz to classical. There is one meaningful departure here: "America the Beautiful," dedicated to the heroes and heroines who stepped forward in the wake of 9/11—and to Palermo's father who earned the Silver Star as a soldier in World War II.

Otherwise, this is pure Zappa (with all arrangements by Palermo). Having heard Palermo's previous salutes to Zappa, the assessment here is that this one is decidedly more congenial and swinging, which may be token either the choice of material or a conscious effort to unscramble Zappa's music. Whatever the impetus, the result is an album that is appreciably more plain-spoken and persuasive than its predecessors.

This is clear from the outset, as Palermo's doughty alto sax darts through a driving arrangement of "Night School." Pianist Bob Quaranta is showcased on the gritty "Dupree's Paradise," Quaranta and tenor Ben Kono on "What's New in Baltimore," organist Ted Kooshian

Ted Kooshian
b.1961
piano
and lead trumpeter Ronnie Buttacavoli on "Let's Move to Cleveland," soprano Phil Chester and trombonist Joe Fiedler
Joe Fiedler
Joe Fiedler
b.1965
trombone
on "Egyptian Strut." Alto Cliff Lyons, tenor Bill Straub, trombonist Charles Gordon and trumpeter John Hines
John Hines
John Hines
b.1964
trombone
are given a chance to stretch on "Echidna's Arf (Of You)," Kono, Palermo, Kooshian, drummer Ray Marchica and guitarist Bruce McDaniel on "Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?" McDaniel is the lead vocalist on "America the Beautiful," with support from Veronica Martell.

Palermo's charts, as noted, are exemplary, and his 17-piece ensemble plays each of them with intelligence and gusto. The third time around, it seems, is a charm for Palermo, Zappa and the band, and Eddy Loves Frank is warmly recommended even to those who've not been seduced by Zappa's music.

Mike Irwin Johnson
8 Legged Monster, Vol. 2
Pursuance Records
2009

While the liner notes mention Mike Irwin Johnson's affinity for Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, his San Francisco-based nonet sounds on 8 Legged Monster, Vol. 2 more like a contemporary renovation of Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' classic Birth of the Cool sessions than anything else that comes readily to mind. True, there's no French horn or tuba, but Johnson's debonair compositions and arrangements unerringly redeem the spirit of those unforgettably "cool" charts by Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
, Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
, Denzil De Costa Best, John Lewis
John Lewis
John Lewis
b.1920
piano
and Johnny Carisi
Johnny Carisi
b.1922
. That's entirely appropriate, as Johnson says it was Davis' album In a Silent Way (Columbia, 1969) that led him away from classical music and awakened his interest in jazz.

The closest Johnson comes to Ellington on this studio date (with invited audience) is the Duke's "Mood Indigo," ably performed by the ensemble (as is everything else) with apposite solos by guitarist Johnson and three of the ensemble's six horns—trumpeter Mike Olmos, clarinetist Rob Barics

Rob Barics
b.1973
sax, tenor
(who doubles on tenor sax) and trombonist Danny Grewen. Others on the front line are alto Joe Cohen, tenor / elder statesman Noel Jewkes and baritone Fil Lorenz. Bassist Eric Markowitz and drummers Jaz Sawyer or Vince Lateano round out the efficient rhythm section. Karina Denike adds a charming vocal on "Goodbye" (a Johnson original, not the familiar Gordon Jenkins composition).

There are handsome features for Olmos ("Olmos Def") and Barics ("F.U.R.B.," on which he seems to be playing soprano as well as tenor). Markowitz is a standout on "Buttercup," Jewkes ditto on "Jo Co & Co." and "Saturn," the last of which, even though described in the liners as a "startlingly vivid Sun Ra Soundscape," is pretty much straight-ahead and swinging, with buoyant unison passages for the horns and earnest statements from Jewkes, Johnson, Cohen, Olmos and Sawyer.

This is an excellent group led by a talented young arranger whose garden-fresh blueprints deserve to be more widely heard and appreciated.


Tracks and Personnel

The Comet's Tail

Tracks: Peep; Slings and Arrows; Itsbynne Reel; How Long 'Til the Sun; Sumo; The Mean Time; Take a Walk; Everything Happens When You're Gone.

Personnel: Chuck Owen: director, arranger; Chad Shoopman, Mike Iapichino, Jay Coble, Tom Parmenter: trumpet; Tami Danielsson, Valerie Gillespie, Jack Wilkins, Ray Wertz, Matt Vance: reeds; Keith Oshiro, Tom Brantley, Jerald Shynett, Jim Hall: trombone; Lowell Adams (4): cello; Per Danielsson: piano; LaRue Nickelson: guitar; Mark Neuenschwander: bass; Danny Gottlieb (1-5, 8): drums; David Coash (3, 4): percussion. Special guest artists—Randy Brecker (1, 4): trumpet; Dave Liebman (5-7): tenor, soprano sax; Joe Lovano (7, 8): tenor sax; Mike Mainieri (7): vibes; Adam Nussbaum (6, 7): drums; Mike Stern (1, 6): guitar; Rob Thomas (3-5): violin.

Close Encounter

Tracks: Lauri; Si Son Rosas; Close Encounter of the 4th Kind; Connections; Triple; El Circo; Agua Tinta; Sundown.

Personnel: Bert Joris: composer, arranger, music director, conductor; Michael Zisman: bandoneon; Stephen Geiser, Johannes Walter, Daniel Woodtli, Thomas Knuchel: trumpet, flugelhorn; Adrian Pflugshaupt: alto, soprano sax, flute; Juerg Bucher: alto sax, clarinet; Till Gruenewald: tenor sax, clarinet; Klaus Widmer: tenor sax; Marc Schoedler: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Vincent Lachat, Stefan Schlegel, Andreas Tschopp: trombone; Reto Zumstein: bass trombone; Philip Henzi: piano; Lorenz Beyeler: bass; Tobias Friedli: drums.

Groove's Mood

Tracks: Groove's Mood; Brasilia; Wade in the Water; You Are the Sunshine of My Life; Tenderly; The Soulful Mister Timmons; Sky Dive; The Black Coming (Kidnapped / Servitude / Jubilation / Enslaved); My Cherie Amour; You Are the Sunshine of My Life.

Personnel: Eddie Allen: composer, arranger, director, trumpet solos (5, 7, 9); Kevin Bryan, Cecil Bridgewater, Guido Gonzales, John Bailey: trumpet, flugelhorn; David Glasser: alto sax, flute; Tia Fuller: alto, soprano sax, flute; Patience Higgins: tenor sax, flute; Jay Brandford: tenor sax, flute, alto flute; Howard Johnson: baritone sax; Clifton Anderson, Sam Burtis, Isrea Butler: trombone; Jack Jeffers: bass trombone, tuba; Bruce Barth: piano; Dwayne Burno: bass; Carl Allen: drums; LaTanya Hall (4, 9): vocals.

Le Jazz Hot

Tracks: Le Petit Fleur; Le Petit Fleur; Le Creation du Monde; Creataloop; Blues to Bechet; Le Petit Fleur; Variations on a Theme by Frank Poulenc; Pablo's Story; Le Petit Fleur.

Personnel: Bill Warfield: conductor, arranger, trumpet; Bob Millikan, Danny Cahn, Tony Kadleck, Dave Ballou: trumpet; Dave Riekenberg, Bob Hanlon, Joel Frahm, Alex Stewart: reeds; Tim Sessions, Chris Olness: trombone; Tim Harrison: piano; Mike Richmond: bass; Grisha Alexiev: drums. Special guest artists—Dave Liebman: soprano, tenor saxophone; Vic Juris: guitar.

Eddy Loves Frank

Tracks: Night School; Echidna's Arf (Of You); Regyptian Strut; Don't You Ever Wash That Thing?; Dupree's Paradise; What's New in Baltimore; Let's Move to Cleveland; America the Beautiful.

Personnel: Ed Palermo: leader, arranger, alto sax; Ronnie Buttacavoli, John Hines, Steve Jankowski, Steven Jankowski: trumpet; Cliff Lyons: alto sax, clarinet; Phil Chester: alto, soprano sax, flute, piccolo; Bill Straub: tenor sax, clarinet; Ben Kono: tenor sax, flute, oboe; Barbara Cifelli: baritone sax, bass clarinet, E-flat mutant clarinet; Charles Gordon, Joe Fiedler: trombone; Matt Ingman: bass trombone; Bruce McDonald: guitar, vocal (8); Ted Kooshian: Kurzweil organ; Bob Quaranta: piano; Paul Adamy: electric bass, fretless bass (8); Ray Marchica: drums. Special guests—John Palermo (2, 3, 6): mandolin; (8) guitar, mandolin; Rob Paparozzi (7): bass harmonica; Veronica Martell (8): vocal.

8 Legged Monster

Tracks: Or Something; Bait; Goodbye; Saturn; Mood Indigo; Olmos Def; Jo Co & Co. / Sonny's Tune; F.U.R.B.; Buttercup.

Personnel: Mike Irwin Johnson: leader, guitar, arranger; Mike Olmos: trumpet; Danny Grewen: trombone; Joe Cohen: alto sax; Rob Barics: tenor sax, clarinet; Noel Jewkes: tenor sax; Fil Lorenz: baritone sax; Eric Markowitz: bass; Jaz Sawyer (1-4, 8), Vince Lateano (5-7, 9): drums; Karina Denike (3): vocal.



comments powered by Disqus