Dani Felber Big Band / Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra / Jazz Composer's Workshop Orchestra
As for soloists, director Doug Beach leads with his strongest cards: Macdonald and tenor Brett Palmer are out front on four numbers each, trumpeters Dorhauer, Dave Kaiser and baritone Brian Toms on three, trumpeter John Norman on two. Others heard to good advantage are trombonists Adam Thornburg ("Desafinado") and Mike Bonham ("Kamchatka"), bassist Andrew Hassel ("Honeysuckle Rose") and drummer Brooks ("Zamboni"). They're fine, but it is the ensemble that shines brightest, especially on "Second Race," "Zamboni," "Swing Out" and "Kamchatka." Little wonder the Elmhurst band has been honored for its proficiency by DownBeat magazine and others; Beach has a well-armed missile at hand, and 'Round Midnight is consistently on target.
Timucua Brass Band
Mardi Gras at Timucua
Timucua Arts Foundation
The Timucua Brass Band is a scaled-down version of the Florida-based Timucua Jazz Orchestra, whose debut CD, Live @ Timucua, was reviewed here in July 2010. As for the music, the album's title is a dead giveaway: Mardi Gras at Timucua is heavily laden with New Orleans-style trad jazz, amplified by random snippets of bop and more contemporary harmonies and rhythms. Leader Benoit Glazer takes a more active role this time around, as he and Mike Iapachino comprise the "trumpet section" in an unorthodox lineup that includes two trombones, two alto saxophones (including guest Dan Martel), two tenors, sousaphone and drums. In case you've not been counting, that makes it a tentet with a one-man rhythm section (that is, if one doesn't count the rumbling sousaphone). Besides Glazer, holdovers from the Jazz Orchestra are Iapachino, tenor Alain Bradette and trombonists Keith Oshiro and James Hosmer.
Oshiro is featured on the sinewy "Elaku," Bradette on the shuffling "Le Blues Gras," drummer Ed Metz Jr. on the emphatic "Mintz Balls." While Josh Parsons solos only once, on the bluesy "Nice and Warm," his tuba-like sousaphone is conspicuous throughout, helping Metz provide a sturdy foundation for the brass and reeds while giving the enterprise an explicit New Orleans temperament. All the compositions and arrangements, by the way, are by Glazer including "Lonna Dee," his inspired send-up of the bop classic "Donna Lee" (a.ka. "Indiana") featuring Hosmer, Oshiro, Metz and tenor Dalton Hagler. There's one other bop-centered piece, the flag-waving "Slander" (based on "It's You or No One"), whose invigorating solos are by Oshiro and alto Rex Wertz. Everyone gets into the act on the breezy "Let the Good Times Jelly Roll," which precedes the funky finale, "Dowg" (solos by Oshiro and Martel).
Even though far removed from the Timucua Jazz Orchestra, the Brass Band is charming in its own way, and should provide ample enjoyment for those who appreciate well-played New Orleans-style jazz leavened with enough modern sounds to keep one's awareness and engagement from flagging.
CSUN is California State University-Northridge, Originals 0809 a series of nine themes composed and / or arranged by members of the various groups represented on this album. The University's Jazz A Bands perform on four tracks (three from 2008, one from 2009), sharing space with the Josiah Boornazian Group, the Brian Havey Trio and Los Vagabondos. The 2008 A Band is heard on Michael Mull's brooding "Montana de Oro" and nimble "Cat and Mouse" and on the only tune not written by one of the students, Freddie Hubbard's bracing "Sky Dive," arranged for the ensemble by trumpeter Phil Florio (who may or may not be the trumpet soloist). The 2009 A Band performs Boornazian's carefree "Intention."
Boornazian's sextet opens the program with his atmospheric "To NYC" and also performs his pensive "Mirrors in the Dark." Havey's trio is featured on his charming composition "Skinny Dude," the five-member Los Vagabondos on a pair of contemporary pieces by guitarist Juanma Trujillo, "Gil Evans" and "Quiet Gentleman." Although there are no liner notes, soloists in the smaller groups are readily identified. While Havey and bassist Elizabeth Riordan are singled out as soloists on "Montana de Oro" and "Skydive" (although neither solos on the latter), the several others on those tunes and "Cat and Mouse" aren't named. The common denominator between the 2009 A Band and the three smaller groups is the versatile drummer Brian Bothwell.
Even though everything is undeniably well-played, more input from the big bands would have been welcome, as "Intention," "Cat & Mouse" and "Skydive" comprise the album's definitive highlights. On the other hand, it's good that everyone had a chance to play, in large groups or small. In sum, a fairly clear snapshot of CSUN's admirable Jazz Studies program.
Tracks and Personnel
More Than Just Friends