On "Laverne" the smiling and animated Mark Sherman was featured on vibraphone. Sherman uses four mallets and creates a dreamy, tubular sound, his notes dancing ever so lightly like waterfowl skimming across a glade. Backed by Kimbrough, Wind and Horner, Sherman gave Hill's music a somewhat unaccustomed lyrical feel. The Horton-led horn section burst into the song with accentuated and forceful walls of sound. Still, there was space for Wind on bass and Kimbrough on piano to engage in a brief exchange of ideas before Horner's muscular drums pushed the song to an abrupt end.
A Medley of tunes titled "Centaros," "Tough Love" and "Belezza" featured an exotic solo on soprano saxophone by Mommas; a beautiful exercise in slightly dissonant but carefully conceived improvisation by Kimbrough; and some nice arco work by Wind. A solo by Fahn on bass trombone was followed by another break into mayhem as discordant horns playfully bellowed to a raucous conclusionalmost to the point of "overplaying" from this listener's viewpoint. The third part of the movement featured Nash playing a sensitive, pastoral-like section on flute. Robinson countered with an understated clarinet solo as Fahm and Eklund played along with muted horns.
The final song was titled "Venture Inward." A quick-paced piece starting with a solo by Horner on drums and some nice vibes work by the effervescent Sherman, it featured some stirring valve trombone work by Fahm. At the conclusion of the number, the crowd was duly appreciative for being witness to the creation of a unique, exhilarating sound. A large group ensemble like this is a labor of love, requiring passion and commitment.
In a quiet moment after the show, Horner confided that he's looking to book this band at some downtown clubs in New York for an extended gig. Of course, it's always difficult to get a group of this size to commit to such an endeavor, especially when each musician has his own individual musical direction. But don't bet against it. Judging from the wonderful unanimity of the players, the marvelous arrangements, the obvious love of the music and the mutual respect they share for each other, this may be the Little Big Band to watch in the coming months.