Glenn Cashman / UAB SuperJazz / Elliot Deutsch Big Band / Russ Spiegel Jazz Orchestra
And the Southland Big Band!
Primrose Lane Music
Even though Glenn Cashman's superlative Southland Big Band makes its home (technically) south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it is more than a few miles removed from cotton fields, mint juleps and the Mississippi Riverto be more precise, in the greater Los Angeles area. There's no discernible southern partiality to the music either; it's pure-blooded straight-ahead big-band jazz, written (for the most part) and arranged by Cashman and performed by an all-star troupe of southern California's most accomplished sidemen.
As noted, eight of the nine selections on this persuasive all-original studio date are Cashman's. The lone exception is Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Aguas de Marco" (Waters of March), scored by Cashman for his fourteen-member ensemble. The sunny opener, "Cookin' with Shorty and Coop" (for Shorty Rogers and Bob Cooper), is outstanding, thanks to Cashman's well-grooved arrangement and bright solos by trumpeter Carl Saunders and tenor saxophonist Rob Hardt. There are other earnest tributes, to Howard Rumsey ("Lighthouse Keeping Man"), fellow bassist Luther Hughes ("Concerto por Basso Pavimento," on which Hughes and guitarist Ron Eschete are the soloists), composer / arranger / Cashman mentor Hank Levy ("A Samba for You") and Cashman's wife, "Cheryl," featuring the composer's expressive alto sax.
Besides those already mentioned, the band's squadron of snappy improvisers includes trumpeters Ron Stout and Bob Summers, trombonists Andy Martin and Alex Iles, tenor Tom Luer, baritone Bob Efford and pianist Ed Czach (Hammond B-3 organ on "The Circuit"). Saunders is showcased again on "Chesapeake Bay," Summers, Martin and Cashman on "Blues in the Tunnel," Stout and Hardt on "Satellite Twelve." The rhythm section (Czach, Eschete, Hodges, drummer Paul Kreibich) is on top of its game throughout, as are split lead trumpeters Lee Thornburg and Pete DeSiena.
The recording, Cashman writes, is "the realization of a longtime dream." It's a safe bet that even he never dreamed it would turn out this well. Thanks to Cashman's persistence and expertise, the "Southland" has risen again. Long may it endure and prosper.
Featuring Ellis Marsalis
Any album that blasts into orbit with Bill Holman's marvelous arrangement of Johnny Mercer's "I Remember You" has all but won this reviewer's heart while still on the launch pad. But there's far more than that to UAB SuperJazz, such as following that enchanting opener with two more personal favorites, "The Very Thought of You" and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes," the first showcasing the eloquent tenor saxophonist Dave Amaral. Or devoting four of the last five numbers on this engaging concert date to the tasteful piano stylings of guest pianist Ellis Marsalis, patriarch of the celebrated Marsalis family of New Orleans.
UAB, of course, denotes the University of Alabama-Birmingham, from whose ranks UAB SuperJazz arose more than thirty years ago. The ensemble is comprised of some of the Birmingham area's finest instrumentalists and arrangers under the baton of music director Everett Lawler. While SuperJazz serves nothing here that hasn't been cooked before, that doesn't mean the bill of fare is any less than appetizing. Everything flows buoyantly along, thanks to resourceful charts and assiduous blowing by all hands. Lawler arranged "The Very Thought of You," "The Song Is You" and "Tin Roof Blues," trombonist Charlie Ard "A Thousand Eyes," "Making Whoopee," "I'm Beginning to See the Light" and "It Don't Mean a Thing," Steve Sample "The Thrill Is Gone," "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "Hello, Young Lovers."