Budman-Levy Orchestra / Jens Wendelboe Big Band / DiMartino-Osland Jazz Orchestra
The last two numbers, written and arranged by Wendelboe, are dedications, the first ("Nix Vogel") to Norwegian drummer Ole Jacob Hansen, the second ("Suite to Bjorn") to Bjorn Kruse, Wendelboe's composition / orchestration teacher in Norway. The "Suite" earned Wendelboe the first of his three awards for composition of the year from NOPA (the Norwegian Popular Composers Union). Alto Mike Migliore, trumpeter Chris Rogers and drummer Lee Finkelstein are the soloists on "Nix Vogel," Migliore, Finkelstein, Timko and pianist Bill Heller on "Suite to Bjorn."
Wendelboe's band is letter-perfect throughout, while his compositions and arrangements are never less than exemplary. Setting aside the vocals (a slim part of the whole), Fresh Heat more than lives up to its name, providing close to an hour of dynamic and exhilarating big band jazz.
The DiMartino / Osland Jazz Orchestra
Sea Breeze Jazz
Quotient opens on a high note with Alan Baylock's buoyant title selection, and there's seldom a letdown thereafter as the Kentucky-based Vince DiMartino / Miles Osland Jazz Orchestra swings merrily along through an impressive melange of fifteen tasteful standards and originals on its second album, recorded in 2007. The co-leaders must be given a lion's share of the credit for that, as they not only chose the music but are superior soloists as wellDiMartino on trumpet or flugelhorn, Osland on alto or soprano saxophone and flute. They've also assembled a world-class orchestra that numbers several engaging soloists of its own, especially the talented pianist Raleigh Dailey, a fellow faculty member at the University of Kentucky in Lexington (where Osland serves as director of Jazz Studies).
Osland's evocative alto is showcased on Kurt Weill's "Speak Low" and Mike Tomaro's "A Sideward Glance," DiMartino's bell-toned trumpet and flugel on Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine" and Frank Mantooth's ballad "Erica," and they solo together (Osland on flute) on Mantooth's arrangement of the standard "Mean to Me' and (Osland on soprano) on the patriotic finale, Samuel Ward / Kaherine Lee Bates' "America," marvelously scored by Dailey. Vocalist Angie Ortega is heard twice, on Bob Mintzer's tongue-in-cheek "TV Blues" and the Gershwins' "I've Got a Crush on You" (with Dailey, Osland and DiMartino soloing on the former, trombonist Jim Grubbs on the latter). Rounding out the program are Bill Holman's beguiling arrangement of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine," Peter Herbolzheimer's "Blues in My Shoes," Dizzy Gillespie's "Anthropology," David Stonaker's debonair "Better Believe It" and "Easy Does It" and Andy Weiner's easygoing "Late Shift Blues." Osland (soprano) and DiMartino solo with drummer John Willmarth on "Quotient" and (alto) "Anthropology."
Other soloists of note are Dailey, bassist Danny Cecil, trombonist Brad Kerns and trumpeter Rick Cook ("Blues in My Shoes"), Dailey and tenor Dave Anderson ("Better Believe It"), Cook and tenor Gordon Towell ("Late Shift Blues"), Cecil and trombonist David Henderson ("Easy Does It"). It's unclear whether any of DOJO's members are UK students, but if they are they must be the cream of the crop, as the ensemble is accomplished in every respect. Any telltale signs of weakness usually appear in the rhythm section, but not in this one: Dailey, Cecil, Willmarth and percussionist Jim Campbell are sharp and sturdy as they come. Quotient is warmly recommended, as is the orchestra's debut recording, Off the Charts (2001), with guest trumpeter Rob Parton.
beats & pieces big band
beats & pieces (lower case, no caps) is a high-energy big band from the UK whose young members are carrying on the tradition in their own singular, ultra-modern way. As the cast of the TV series Seinfeld would be quick to point out: "Not that there's anything wrong with that." To the contrary, no matter how the music is received (and that may vary widely), there's no doubt that these gentlemen (there are no ladies, save for a brief vocal by Najia Bagi on the mournful finale, "broken") can flat-out play.