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Big Band Caravan

Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchesta / Vaughn Wiester / Chie Imaizumi

By Published: October 7, 2010
Parts 1 and 2 of the suite are divided by a brief but effective "interlude" underscored by trombone and trumpet leads Scott Brown and Anthony Omdahl, respectively. The interlude moves directly into the lyrical second movement, ushered in by Heath's eloquent soprano saxophone. Heath solos again on tenor, as he does on the first and third movements, his control and phrasing as smooth and sharp as ever. Other soloists on Part 1 ("The Endless Search") are co-leader / alto Michael Brockman and trumpeter Jay Thomas
Jay Thomas
Jay Thomas
b.1949
, on Parts 2 and 3 ("Inside Your Heart" / "Where It Started") pianist Randy Halberstadt, tenor Hadley Caliman
Hadley Caliman
Hadley Caliman
1932 - 2010
saxophone
(who sounds a lot like Heath), trombonist David Marriott, Jr.
David Marriott, Jr.
b.1973
trombone
, trumpeter Thomas Marriott
Thomas Marriott
Thomas Marriott
b.1975
trumpet
, bassist Phil Sparks and drummer (and co-leader) Clarence Acox. Baritone Bill Ramsay, tenor Travis Ranney, alto Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor
b.1961
composer/conductor
and trombonist Dan Marcus are out front with Heath on "Sleeves."

It's a shame that Heath couldn't have hung around long enough to help brighten the last three tracks, recorded during concert performances from 2007-2010—Brockman's "Passage Noir," Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
's "Haitian Fight Song" and Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
's "Creole Love Call," each of which has its moments yet falls rather short of Heath's inspiring endowments. After an unpromising beginning, "Noir" settles into a pleasant groove that underscores crisp solos by Brockman, Acox and pianist Bill Anschell. Mingus is an acquired taste, one that hasn't yet stimulated every palate. The SRJO does its best with the building blocks at hand, and there are cogent statements by Brockman, Thomas and Acox. Ellington's "Love Call" dates from 1927, before his band began its residency at New York's Cotton Club (well, this is a repertory orchestra). For what it is, it's fine, and the SRJO gives the bygone era its due. The soloists are Brockman, Halberstadt and Thomas Marriott.

While the SRJO plays well throughout, and the soloists are never less than assertive, the indelible components of the album are Heath's burnished compositions and engaging solos. For that alone, it is warmly recommended.

The Oster / Welker Jazz Alliance

Detour Ahead

Jazzed Media

2010

The Oster / Welker Jazz Alliance consists of vocalist Jeff Oster, trumpeter Peter Welker
Peter Welker
Peter Welker

trumpet
and groups of various sizes, each one doing its level best to enrich Oster's charming, plain-spoken vocals on a series of jazz and popular standards closing with the pensive title selection, tastefully performed by Oster and pianist Dave Mathews.

Oster, who once sang lead for a vocal quartet before taking a twenty-year leave of absence to raise a son, has resumed a rewarding career later in life, even though the chances of his scaling the heights achieved by some of his seminal influences—Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
1915 - 1998
vocalist
, Mel Torme
Mel Torme
Mel Torme
b.1925
vocalist
, Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
b.1932
vocalist
, Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
b.1950
vocalist
, Al Jarreau
Al Jarreau
Al Jarreau
b.1940
vocalist
, Jon Hendricks
Jon Hendricks
Jon Hendricks
b.1921
vocalist
—are decidedly slim, to say the least. On the other hand, he's a talented songbird with a clear tenor voice, sings on key, knows how to swing when he has to, can scat too, and measures up quite well against his contemporaries (their ranks being rather depleted at the moment).

Welker, besides playing trumpet on seven of the album's dozen tracks (and soloing on flugel on Luis Bonfa's gossamer "Gentle Rain"), wrote the arrangements, and has done a splendid job of it, adeptly modulating the tempos and painting bright and colorful backdrops while leaving ample blowing room for the standout sidemen who include Mathews, trombonists Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous
b.1939
trombone
and Scott Whitfield
Scott Whitfield
Scott Whitfield
b.1963
trombone
, alto saxophonist Andrew Speight
Andrew Speight
Andrew Speight

sax, alto
, tenor Roberts Brothers, baritone Scott Petersen
Scott Petersen
Scott Petersen

saxophone
, guitarist Randy Vincent, pianist Mark Levine
Mark Levine
Mark Levine
b.1938
piano
, bassist Chris Amberger and drummer Kevin Dillon. Oster is backed by Mathews, Amberger and Dillon on "Never Let Me Go," by Roth, Levine, Amberger and Dillon on Cole Porter's "All Through the Night." Strings and cello are added on "Gentle Rain" and Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
piano
's "If You Never Come to Me," two of the album's three jazz-oriented songs (the other is Duke Pearson
Duke Pearson
Duke Pearson
b.1932
piano
's "Jeannine").

The choice of material is exemplary, from the songs already named to "There Is No Greater Love," "Invitation," "Weaver of Dreams," "All the Things You Are," "A Beautiful Friendship" and "I'll Remember April," each one sung with warmth and assurance by Oster. One has come to anticipate excellence from Jazzed Media Records, and Detour Ahead does nothing to impair its well-earned reputation.

Tracks and Personnel

Mezzanine

Tracks: Suite Storytelling (The Glass Tree / Taballae Ex Terra / Mezzanine / Sketch for Boz); Goodbye Little Dream, Goodbye; Suite Influence (Moonlight Serenade / Stompin' at the Savoy / Cherokee); Little Sunflower.


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