Summoning Juan Tizol's travel-worn Caravan" to raise the curtain on a big-band album poses a challenge for any arranger, one that John La Barbera easily brushes aside on the third recording as leader of his own ensemble. And while Caravan" dazzles in La Barbera's capable hands, it is merely the opening salvo in a session that smolders from end to end, clearly rivaling and and some ways even trumping his Grammy Award-nominated debut album, On the Wild Side. One after another, La Barbera's well-framed charts tantalize the ears and quicken the heart while bringing out the very ...read more
The beautiful Mediterranean island of Sicily--and the triple-legged image on its national flag--are also known as the Trinicria." That name translates as--and also describes--the triangular shape of the island. Whether that's a geo-historical lesson or not, the three La Barbera Brothers--John, Joe and Pat have established themselves as a most formidable familial trio in jazz history, right up there with the Joneses, Heaths, Adderleys, Breckers, and others. And, with Caravan that La Barbera legacy will assuredly continue to resonate. On this swinging journey, arranger/composer and leader, John La Barbera has aggregated a superb unit of L.A.'s Usual ...read more
It's an interesting phenomenon how certain families enter and distinguish themselves in this marvelous world of jazz--The Joneses, Heaths, Candolis, Royals, Breckers, Mangiones, and others. Over the last five decades--even many more if one goes farther back to when they were young children playing in the family band with Mom and Pop--the La Barbera Brothers--John, Joe and Pat have graced stages with pantheon artists such as Bill Evans, Buddy Rich, Buddy DeFranco, DIVA, Tony Bennett, Elvin Jones and many more. Each of the La Barbera Brothers has a resume that stands most formidable in the biz. When their collective musical ...read more
Fantazm is the second album by the John La Barbera Big Band, following last year's impressive debut, On the Wild Side. While the songs are new, almost everything else, we are happy to report, remains invariable--even the band's personnel is essentially the same, with guitarist Larry Koonse added on two tracks. La Barbera's charts (he arranged everything) are once again superb, his hand-picked crew of West Coast heavyweights deciphers them flawlessly, and John's brothers, tenor saxophonist Pat and drummer Joe, are key players without whose singular talents the enterprise would surely have been far less persuasive. Pat solos admirably on ...read more
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