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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fred Hess Big Band: Speak

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In the liner notes to Speak, saxophonist/band leader Fred Hess makes an important point: although the golden era of traveling big bands is long past, the big band format lives on in school ensembles, as well as through individuals such as himself, whose love for this format plows right through all the logistical difficulties. Anyone seeking proof that big bands are flourishing need only listen to this third CD by the Fred Hess Big Band: all six songs are multifaceted gems, delectable panoramas of sound that continue to blossom with subsequent listening. Part of being a big band ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fred Hess Big Band: Into the Open

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Denver, Colorado-based tenor saxophonist/bandleader Fred Hess isn't one to sit around and wait for the muse to pay a visit. He boasts fifteen CDs as a leader, cranking one out every year now for better than a decade. His profile rose on the surge of a set of small group outings, beginning with Crossed Paths (Tapestry, 2005), and culminating--small group-wise--with Single Moment (Alison, 2008), on which he experimented by expanding, very successfully, his free jazz quartet to a sextet. Hess made the leap to the big band arena with the outstanding Hold On (Dazzle Records, 2009), which had ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fred Hess Big Band: Hold On

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Originally from Abington, Pennsylvania, tenor saxophonist Fred Hess has resided in Denver, Colorado since 1981. Though Denver is not often considered a hotbed of progressive jazz, Hess, as founder of the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble and Denver's Creative Music Works Orchestra, has fashioned an alternative to the East Coast/West Coast paradigm. With 14 albums as a leader to his credit, Hess and his regular collaborators have documented a fertile body of work, with many tunes from his burgeoning songbook featured on Hold On, Hess' first big band album.

First heard together on The Long and Short of It (Tapestry, 2004), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fred Hess Big Band: Hold On

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Fred Hess has been prolific this millennium. For those familiar with the Denver-based saxophonist's last six discs, however, Hold On may come as a surprise. Since 2004, Hess has immersed himself in the art of the piano-less quartet, before augmenting his group--first, with a second saxophonist, and then a guitarist, moving from quintet to sextet and offering up a fresh and energetic take on free jazz.With Hold On, Hess jumps into the big band arena for the first time, with stunning success.This ambitious foray into the big band arena sounds like a set that Hess always ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Fred Hess Band: Single Moment

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Tenor saxophonist Fred Hess has been something of an adventurer with his music. He has not only gone past the obvious in his interpretation of tunes, he has also been unafraid to get into different genres. That he has been successful tells his tale.

Hess adds guitarist Dale Bruning to his tried and true quintet of Ron Miles (trumpet), John Gunther (flute, alto saxophone), Ken Filiano (bass) and Matt Wilson (drums). Bruning infuses a different character to the music with his dynamics, no matter if he is plumb in the middle of the band or in a conversation ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Fred Hess Band: Single Moment

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Tenor saxophonist Fred Hess blew off on a free tangent in 2002 with Exposed (CIMP Records), employing an Ornette Coleman style quartet containing two horns, bass and drums. He followed up on that approach with three excellent Tapestry Records discs, Extended Family (2003), The Long and Short of It (2004), and Crossed Paths (2005), with the latter pair cementing the Ken Filiano (bass), Ron Miles (trumpet) and Matt Wilson (drums) line-up that has carried over to Hess' more recent quintet albums, How 'Bout Now (Tapestry, 2006) and In the Grotto (Alison Records, 2007).A constant on these sets from ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Fred Hess Band: Single Moment

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Denver-based tenor saxophonist Fred Hess is an under-sung yet vital presence in the Mid-Western jazz scene. His current quartet with Ron Miles (trumpet), Ken Filiano (bass) and Matt Wilson (drums) first recorded together on The Long and Short of It (Tapestry, 2004). A prolific post-bop ensemble, they have issued three follow-up albums in as many years, and while they have often been joined by another horn player, the core line-up has not changed.

Dominated by standards and classic covers, Single Moment is somewhat of a departure for Hess and his veteran ensemble. The quartet is joined by guitarist ...



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