How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Duke Ellington's legacy is alive and well with pianist Mike Holober and The Gotham Jazz Orchestra. Holober makes use of the increased musical scope that 17 pieces give him to weave compositional strength within a sound that sways more than swings.
Some of the finest jazzers New York City has to offer join Holober for this session. Their individual talents are certainly showcased but the strength of this release is how Holober fits them all together to fashion these elegant presentations. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones make appearances via extended reworkings of "Here Comes the Sun" and "Ruby Tuesday." With Holober's approach, the danger here is treading too close to muzak, but his arrangements, Dave Pietro's alto saxophone and Tim Ries' tenor on the former along with Mark Patterson's trombone and Steve Cardenas' guitar on the latter expand and evolve these pop tunes into intriguing inventions.
The originals likewise are conceptually strong and benefit from gorgeous voicings and a perfect amount of flavoring from the soloists. The title cut evokes autumnal imagery over which Ries' soprano dances. "Twist and Turn" does so seductively as Holober's Rhodes and John Hebert's bass add some funky overtones that are picked up by Charles Pillow's tenor sax. "Roc and a Soft Place," dedicated to band leader Joe Roccisano, is a very pretty and leisurely stroll. "Note to Self," a very melodic yet contemplative tune, and "Thrushes," which uses the bird's song as muse, feature reflective solos from Holober against delicate scores. There is definitely a classicist at work here and the details, subtleties and shades are refreshing and elegant.
Track Listing: Quake; Twist & Turn; Roc & A Soft Place; Here Comes The Sun; Note To Self; Thrushes; Ruby Tuesday.
Personnel: Mike Holober: piano, fiddle; Dave Pietro: saxophone; Jon Gordon: saxophone; Tim Ries: saxophone; Charles Pillow: saxophone; Steve Kenyon: saxophone; Tony Kadlek: trumpet; Craig Johnson: trumpet;
Scott Wendholt: trumpet; Joe Magnarelli: trumpet; Bruce Eidem: trombone; Mark Patterson: trombone; Pete McGuinness: trombone; Nate Durham: trombone; John Hebert: bass; John Riley: drums.