Although drummer Art Lillard's Heavenly Band makes its home about as far from heaven as one could plausibly roam--New York City, to be precise--the music it produces on Reasons to Be Thankful (recorded in 2000 and released six years later) evokes at times an empyrean vibe, thanks in part to blissful arrangements by Lillard and guitarist Mark McCarron and spirited blowing by the ensemble. As for the point of view, it might best be described as contemporary swing, employing sophisticated rhythmic and harmonic devices in the service of themes that are firmly anchored in essential tradition. This ...read more
File this one under: Swingin' NYC Big Band! Drummer, bandleader and composer Art Lillard has been leading versions of this organization over the past nineteen years and has produced in Reasons To Be Thankful an upbeat and impressive album that exposes several talented and underappreciated musicians in the Big Apple. The thirteen selections are all Lillard originals, save for one by guitarist Mark McCarron, who also contributes several fine guitar solos throughout the album.
Lillard also shows a good sense of balance by including several vocals throughout the course of this session, thus providing a well-rounded presentation. They ...read more
Recorded in 2000, this session by Art Lillard's big band combines lively swing and a traditional mainstream essence into one original package. Lillard and members of his organization wrote the music for this romping program. Lillard, a drummer, leads the band with a swinging rhythmic foundation and comfortable strides. He brings in vocal soloists for six of the thirteen tracks.
Lillard's variable-pitch drum solo on Bluez Organ Man, and the song's incredible fusion of Caribbean percussion with big band, is one of the session's high points. Similarly, Incognito, with its exotic tango-esque persona and lively Latin percussion surroundings, ...read more
Reasons to be Thankful, the second recording from Art Lillard's Heavenly Band since 1995, offers a toe-tapping, fun big band swing time experience. The Heavenly Big Band, a fixture amd mainstay of the New York jazz scene since 1987, is the brainchild of drummer/composer and band leader Art Lillard. Unlike most big band recordings, this album features all original compositions and arrangements in styles ranging from bebop to blues, Latin jazz, a sprinkle of mainstream big band, and a good dose of the modern swing dance music of today.
For this project, Lillard brings together seventeen top notch ...read more