Ray Brown's Great Big Band / NYJO / Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra
Besides those already mentioned, the band unravels the Cavanagh originals "Phase Space" and "Gozar," Pat Metheny / Lyle Mays' "First Circle," Jim McNeely's "Extra Credit" and Tadd Dameron's bop classic, "Hot House." Jessica Hatfield sings on two tracks, "Leaving" and Cole Porter's "Easy to Love." The ensemble is sharp throughout, and arguably at its collective best on such rhythmically precise and emphatic numbers as "Split Rock," "First Circle," "Blue," "Extra Credit" and "Hot House," even though the other themes are no less persuasive in their own way.
Hernandez, Samuels and Wright are engaging soloists, as are alto Cam Collins ("First Circle," "Hothouse"), trumpeter Matt Shea ("Phase Space," "Extra Credit," "Hothouse"), trombonist Russell Sharp ("Gozar"), baritone Colin Renick and trombonist / unit leader Dan Drew ("Extra Credit"). McCarthy's bravura percussion sets the scene on "Gozar," while he, Wright and bassist James Fowler comprise a taut and responsive rhythm section whose support never wavers (note, for example, Fowler's resonant bass lines and McCarthy's tasteful timekeeping on "Hot House").
In sum, an auspicious and pleasing maiden voyage for the U,.S. Naval Academy Band, one that augurs well for cruises yet to come.
Mt. Hood Jazz Band & Combos
Sea Breeze Vista
Gan Bei is the seventh album in as many years by director Susie Jones' self-assured Jazz Band from Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon, which this time around shares blowing space with two smaller combos, Nos. 2138 and 2102 (no word anywhere as to the reasons for the numbers). Combo 2138 excels on the boppish opener, tenor saxophonist Leon Cotter's "Song for the Chairman," and on pianist Shawn Schlogel's rhythmic "Time Keeps Movin' On," while combo 2102 is in the pocket on guitarist Steve Lillegard's even-tempered "Make Me Feel So Blue" (sensuous vocal by Susan Sinclair).
The large ensemble takes command on the other eight tracks, which include animated originals by Alan Baylock ("Hullabaloo," "Livin' Larger Than Life"), Baylock's clever arrangement of Ray Noble's jazz evergreen, "Cherokee," Allan Horney's well-grooved "J Bird Rides Again," John Clayton's greasy "Soupbone," Ray Charles' gritty soul classic "What'd I Say" (vocal by Curtis Salgado), Billy Byers' Basie-style blues, "Count Me In," and Eric Richards' bright arrangement of Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation." The big band has a number of able soloists, the most engaging of whom are pianist Manny Chester and veteran tenor Sam Solano. Cotter, Schlogel, drummer Matt Farina and bassist Shyam Ananda add solo spice to Combo 2138, while Lillegard, alto Jared Caranto and trombonist Mitch St. Germain do the same on "Feel So Blue."
As is the case with the combo numbers, the origin of Gan Bei is unexplained, but that's beside the point. What's important is that the MHCC Band (and combos) perform well throughout, producing yet another album of tasteful big band jazz that is well above the norm. If past performance is a credible signpost, 2011 should give rise to more of the same.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: So in Love; Indian Summer; Kayak; I Fall in Love Too Easily; Blue Daniel; Del Sasser; Our Love Is Here to Stay; I've Never Been in Love Before; Turn Out the Stars; Tricotism; Moment's Notice; Song of No Regrets; Seven Steps to Heaven.
Personnel: Ray Brown: leader, arranger; Rich Bice: trumpet; Steve Campos: trumpet; Don Beck: trumpet; Louis Fasman: trumpet; Erik Jekobsen: trumpet; Mary Fettig: alto sax, flute, alto flute; Paul Contos: alto sax, flute; Paul Tarantino: tenor sax (1-5, 13); Bennett Friedman: tenor sax, clarinet (6-12); Charlie McCarthy: tenor sax, clarinet; Mike Young: baritone sax, bass clarinet; John Gove: trombone; Dave Eshelman: trombone; Dave Gregoric: trombone; Dave Martell: trombone; Derek James: bass trombone (1-5, 13); Steve Barnhill: bass trombone (6-12); Steve Brown: guitar; Eddie Mendenhall: piano; John Shifflett: bass; Steve Houghton: drums; Gail Dobson: vocal (8).
For Dick Morrissey and Chris Dagley
Tracks: S'Wonderfuel; The Water Babies; Yessica; Afterburner; Syrup of Phiggs; Cheese & Carrots; Storm Warning; Tangerine; Royal Flush; Lift Off; Going Dutch.
Soul of the Movement
Tracks: There Is a Balm in Gilead; Amen; Emmett Till; Black Cab; Fables of Faubus; We Shall Overcome; Trouble on the Bus; Birmingham; Go Tell It on the Mountain; We're a Winner; Memphis; Take My Hand Precious Lord.