Since the advent of Jazz At Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington program in 1995, schools across America have had the chance to dig into real deal charts, exploring note-for-note transcriptions of tunes written byor associated withDuke Ellington
. This music, written by the best-of-the-best for the-best-of-the-best, was never really meant to be played by youngsters, but plenty of student bands have proven that they can rise to the challenge and handle these heavyweight charts. The Tucson Jazz Institute's Ellington Big Band, for example, has done it time and again.
This band has received its fair share of awards, coming out on top as the "Best Community High School Jazz Band" at the Essentially Ellington competitionin 2010 and 2012and being dubbed the best Performing Arts High School Jazz Band by DownBeat magazine. Exceptional talent, determination, focus and leadership are audibly apparent at every turn of phrase when they play, so it's easy to see why plaudits have been piled at the feet of these players. On Things To Come, director Doug Tidaback successfully makes the case that student bands need not sound like student bands.
Things To Come leans heavily on material from the Essentially Ellington catalog, as the Ellington Big Band explores the laid back beauty of "Sunset And The Mockingbird," the slow-and-dirty contours of "Happy Go Lucky Local," the power and humor of Dizzy Gillespie
via "Things To Come" and "Oop Bop Shabam," respectivelyand the excitable nature of "Swingin' The Blues." Along the way, they also part ways with this program and check out some other charts. They give multiple nods to The Chairman Of The Board, referencing Frank Sinatra
through takes on "I've Got You Under My Skin," "I'll Be Seeing You" and "New York, New York," and deliver the unexpected with a compelling take on Radiohead's "Everything In Its Right Place." The Tucson Jazz Institute is just one of many schools that have benefited from Sierra Music's decision to publish charts from the Lawrence University-driven Radiohead Jazz Project.
The band takes a fairly balanced approach with vocals vs. instrumentals, but they truly shine in the latter category. Hot players like multi-instrumentalist wunderkind Max Goldschmid
and trombonist Sam Chess set things in motion when they step out front, and the band sounds like a million bucks when everyone's in full swing. This album speaks volumes about the good work going on at the Tucson Jazz Institute.
Track Listing: Rompin’ at the Reno; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; Swingin’ the Blues; I’ll Be Seeing You; Oop Bop Shabam; Sunset and the Mockingbird; New York, New York; Happy Go Lucky Local; Everything in Its Right Place; Things to Come.
Personnel: Doug Tidaback: director; Gavin Tidaback: trumpet, vocal (4); Omar Lincoln: trumpet; Dominic Muller: trumpet; Jacob Rose: trumpet; Graham Place: trumpet; Max Goldschmid: trumpet, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet; Valeria Ornales, Alan Acosta, Aubrey Martin, Sergio Tabanico, Julianne Colwell: saxophones; Sam Chess: trombone; Drew Sheets: trombone; Jacob LaBar: trombone; Furey Starrat: trombone; Johnathon Black: trombone; Robbie Lee: piano, vocals (2, 5, 7); Grant Cherry: piano; Shane Hurtado: guitar; Jeff Sandberg: bass; Zach Lavine: bass; Tim Rachbach: drums; Ryland Mandish: drums, vibes.