Stan Kenton-NOVA Jazz Orchestra / Baker's Dozen Big Band / Danny D'Imperio and the Bloviators
The Next Generation and Originals (the first a two-CD set) are Volumes 7 and 9 in the recorded legacy to date of Germany's superlative National Youth Jazz Orchestra, more commonly known as BuJazzO. Where, you may ask, is Volume 8? According to the orchestra's music director, Dr. Peter Ortmann, Volume 8 has been recorded but not yet released. Volume 7 consists of a dozen standards and newer works, three each of which are conducted by Marko Lackner, Bill Dobbins, Ed Partyka and Jiggs Whigham, plus "Women in Jazz," whose four numbers were written by female composers Meike Goosmann (two), Julia Hulsmann and Efrat Alony and arranged by conductor Steffen Schorn. Volume 7 was recorded in concerts from 2007-09, Volume 9 in September 2010 at a studio in Reinsberg. As its title denotes, Volume 9 is comprised entirely of original compositions and arrangements by members of the orchestra and others. That's about the best I can manage in the way of background information, as the liner notes to both volumes are in German.
Taking Volume 7 first, Disc 1 opens with a couple of Lackner's compositions, "Zwiefacha" and "Don Quixote," and the Sammy Cahn / Jimmy Van Heusen ballad "The Second Time Around," nicely sung by an unnamed vocalist (eleven are listed). Dobbins is up next, conducting three familiar songs from the jazz / standard repertoire, Count Basie / Eddie Durham's "Swinging the Blues" and a brace of Harold Arlen evergreens, "Blues in the Night" and "I've Got the World on a String" (the last two sung by a mixed chorus and soloists). Partyka oversees two of his forward-leaning themes, "Overcast" and "Homecoming," sandwiched around Tom Waits' folk song, "Time." Again, there are unnamed female vocalists (or perhaps the same one) on "Overcast" and "Time."
On Disc 2, Whigham conducts three movements from Johnny Richards' evocative Cuban Fire suite, "Fuego Cubano," "Quien Sabe?" and "La Guera Baila" (with four French horns on hand to add color) before making way for the women, whose session opens with Hulsmann's "Gelb-Satz IV" from Drei Farben Weiss suite and continues with Alony's "Stray Thoughts" and Goosmann's "Schafsritt" and "Patita." Although the women's compositions are a mixed bag whose pleasurable interludes outweigh their moments of discord, BuJazzO plays them with ardor and awareness, as it does everything else on the menu. Several photos of the various orchestras are enclosed in Volume 7's booklet, one of which features a smiling trumpeter Carl Saunders seated front row center. If you're going to have guest artists, you may as well invite the best.
Marko Lackner is the lone conductor on Volume 9, which includes compositions by orchestra members Philip Czarnecki ("Hidden Sun"), Alexander Buhl ("Mr. Metro") and half a dozen other writers. This is by and large the same group I was fortunate enough to see and hear in Santa Fe (conducted by Whigham) as it ended a two-week tour of the U.S, in August 2011, as several of the names are familiar (trumpeters Matthias Schwengler, Mathis Petermann and Steffen Mathes, trombonists Timothy Hepburn and Lukas Jochner, altos Katharina Brien and Markus Harm, tenors Buhl and Toni Bechtold, baritone Florian Leuschner, flutist Charlotte Ortmann, pianist Stefan Nagler, guitarist Czarnecki, bassist Reza Askari-Motlagh, drummers Julian Fau and Julian Kulpmann).
Of the two volumes, Originals earns the advantage owing to the impressive compositions, each of which is vibrant and plain-spoken, and the fact that there are no vocals, as on The Next Generation. As is the case on both volumes, the unnamed soloists are uniformly admirable, especially so for musicians in their teens or barely beyond (the orchestra's upper age limit is twenty-five). From concert to concert and end to end, BuJazzO readily affirms that it is not only Germany's foremost youth orchestra but one of the world's most accomplished groups of younger musicians as well.
Tracks and Personnel
Double Feature, Vol. 2
Tracks: CD1: Intro & Theme; What's New; My Old Flame; What Is This Thing Called Love; I Concentrate on You; How Am I to Know; La Suerte de los Tontos / Sign Off; The Night We Called It a Day; The Big Chase; Interlude; Get Out of Town; Early Autumn; Nightingale; This Is Always; Don't Get Around Much Anymore; Twilight Riff; Willow Weep for Me; Artistry in Rhythm. CD2: Silhouette; Keeps; Skylark; The Breeze and I; Magic Lantern; Raff Riff; Easy Livin'; I Loves You Porgy; A Foggy Day; Come Rain or Come Shine; You'd Better Go Now; Frenesi; Indian Summer; Blues News.