DIVA Jazz Orchestra / Paul Read Orchestra / Andy Farber and His Orchestra
The last two tracks, played without pause, comprise a two-part suite dedicated to Read's friend and fellow musician Eddie Sossin who died in 1999. Prayer, a chorale-like ballad, features pianist David Braid and wordless vocal by Trish Colter; Celebration spins into a snappy Latin groove behind drummer Kevin Dempsey's incisive introduction to underpin animated solos by guitarist Geoff Young, trombonist Terry Promane and tenor saxophonists Quinsin Nachoff and Alex Dean. Included are snippets from several of Sossin's favorite songs including "St. Thomas," "All the Things You Are," "There Will Never Be Another You" and "Summer of '42."
The well-named opener, Too Pretty for Words, is a charming showpiece for the ensemble and soloists Young, Dempsey, alto Andy Ballantyne and trombonist William Carn. Braid and flugel Jim Lewis are out front on the graceful ballad "Awakening," alto saxophonist Tara Davidson on the easygoing "Waltz for Kelly." Bassist Andrew Downing's voice lends an ethereal cast to the buoyant "Arc-en-ciel" whose soloists are Braid, Davidson (soprano), Nachoff and Lewis. Dean is the moderator on the gossamer "Sand Castle," trumpeter Chase Sanborn on "Ballad for Mr. G," and the two issue emphatic collaborative statements on "Oxymoron" (based on the Gershwin brothers' "Love Walked In").
An exemplary album, splendidly recorded with unblemished sound and balance. Beyond that, luminous and persuasive compositions and arrangements by Paul Read, adeptly performed by his world-class orchestra from north of the border. Warmly recommended.
Andy Farber and His Orchestra
This Could Be the Start of Something Big
Black Warrior Records
While Andy Farber's name may be new to you, it certainly isn't to a wealth of big-name Jazz artists and groups who have used his impressive composing / arranging talents to their advantage. The roster includes but is not limited to B.B. King, Ann Hampton Callaway, Bobby Short, Jon Hendricks, Shirley Horn, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and the Jazz @ Lincoln Center Orchestra. In spite of Farber's impeccable credentials, this is Farber's first recording as leader of his own band, and as the title suggests, This Could Be the Start of Something Big.
Farber wrote four of the album's fourteen enticing numbers and arranged everything, starting with his own "Bombers," a charming throwback to the good old days of simple riffs that really swung, a la Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and other legendary bands. The same is true of Farber's other themes, "Space Suit," "It Is What It Is" and "Short Yarn," each of which is captivating on its own terms. The aforementioned Hendricks joins the orchestra on two more flag-wavers, Steve Allen's "This Could Be the Start of Something" and Pete Johnson's "Roll 'em Pete" (the first with the Hendricks & Co. Singers), showing that he can still belt out a lyric with the best of them as he nears his ninetieth birthday. Alto saxophonist Jerry Dodgion, a "young lion" by comparison at age seventy-eight, is equally persuasive as guest soloist on the venerable jazz standard, "Broadway."