With Octobop, what you see (and hear) is what you get: octo," as in octet, and bop," as in swinging, straight-from-the-shoulder jazz as practiced by the legendary masters who rewrote the music's vocabulary in the '40s, '50s and '60s. Saxophonist and prime mover Geoff Roach leads the California-based group on its sixth CD, Out of Nowhere, which, much like the first five, is likable from end to end, blending the group's readiness and camaraderie after fifteen years together with an obvious love and respect for the music. True, none of the soloists would ever be mistaken for ...read more
Why can't they make albums like this anymore? A few words that might best describe this project could be: West Coast Jazz both joyous and swinging. The group's leader, reedman Geoff Roach, puts the Octobop musical mission in total perspective. Roach has always been enamored of the mid-sized West Coast bands of Shorty Rogers, Marty Paich and Dave Pell, as well as the piano-less ensembles of artists like Gerry Mulligan. Roach has assembled a group of eight musicians who are fully capable of ensemble as well as solo playing. In seeking to improve the group's communication with the public, as ...read more
What's cool about Octobop, besides the band's clever name and conception, is the beautifully retro nature of its music. An octet is the middle child, in between a small combo and a big band. Smaller groups have long been a favorite format of arrangers and Very Early is very much an arranger's collection. Accepting that this is an assembly of standards, the essence of the disc is in the choice of arrangers from within and outside the group. A comparison with Miles Davis' 1949 nonet is not inappropriate.
Very Early, titled after the Bill Evans tune of ...read more
I received a copy of Octobop's fourth CD, Very Early, very late--well past its actual release date--but better late than never, as saxophonist Geoff Roach's urbane northern California-based ensemble does its usual splendid job of reawakening and perpetuating the cool sounds of West Coast Jazz from the '50s, '60s and beyond.
This time, the octet has reached beyond its customary Gerry Mulligan-Marty Paich-Shorty Rogers base to include themes by Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini, Bill Evans, Bob Mintzer, Mel Tormé/Bob Wells, Charles Mingus and trumpeter Randy Smith, completing the program with Mulligan's A Ballad, Rogers' Powder Puff and a trio of ...read more
In spite of all that has been written and said about it, West Coast jazz in the '50s and '60s wasn't really cool"--no more so than what was being played on the East Coast or in the heartland--but it did have a certain indefinable quality that set it apart. I'd say it was more hip" than cool." There surely was ample fire in its belly, as anyone who has heard Art Pepper, Gerry Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Shelly Manne, Jack Montrose, Frank Rosolino, Bob Gordon, Hampton Hawes, Jimmy Giuffre, Bill Perkins, the Williamson brothers, Lennie Niehaus or any of ...read more
As it says in the liner notes to Night Lights, “West Coast Jazz rides again.” Not quite as high as it did in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but one must give due credit to Silicon Valley’s Octobop for helping to enliven and preserve the spirit of some of the greatest Jazz ever written or played. Yes, there was much more to appreciate about “West Coast Jazz” than its laid-back hipness, the “cool” facade that came to epitomize the movement and by which it was universally, albeit inaccurately, known.
This is the second album by saxophonist Geoff Roach’s eight-member ...read more
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