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Andy Farber and His Orchestra: This Could Be The Start Of Something Big (2010)

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Andy Farber and His Orchestra: This Could Be The Start Of Something Big How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The sight and sound of one of the classic big bands in full flight must have been something to behold. For those fans of big band jazz who never got to experience such a thing, as well as for those who did and remember it fondly, Andy Farber And His Orchestra bring the sound back with a bang on This Could Be The Start Of Something Big.

Saxophonist Farber arranged and conducted all of the tunes, as well as writing four numbers. As a former member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Musical Director, arranger or conductor for Jon Hendricks
Jon Hendricks
Jon Hendricks
b.1921
vocalist
, Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, Shirley Horn
Shirley Horn
Shirley Horn
1934 - 2005
piano
and B.B. King
B.B. King
B.B. King
b.1925
guitar, electric
, to name just a few, Farber's credentials for this project are strong. He takes what drummer Alvester Garnett, who wrote the liner notes, terms an "Ellingtonian aesthetic" of writing for specific players, while emphasizing the ensemble rather than soloists. The approach works superbly here—the soloists are impressive, but it's the sound of the full 18-piece band that really leaves a lasting, positive, impression.

It says much about Farber's writing and arranging skills that his own compositions sit happily alongside those of George Gershwin
George Gershwin
George Gershwin
1898 - 1937
composer/conductor
or Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
1908 - 2002
vibraphone
. "Short Yarn" is a smooth, Latin-tinged, danceable, number with a mellow clarinet solo from Dan Block. "Bombers"—named for one of the baseball teams formed by members of the Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
band—has a feel-good swing of which Basie would be proud, while "Space Suit" is more obviously informed by Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
's approach.

Farber arranges George and Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
1896 - 1983
composer/conductor
's "The Man I Love" as an up-tempo, swinging, showstopper of a tune: Block, Farber and tenor saxophonist Marc Phaneuf each contribute classy, driving, solos. Hampton's "Jack the Bellboy" roars out of the speakers, the band in full flight from start to finish. Farber gives Mel Brooks' "High Anxiety" a Broadway treatment, with Garnett's gently swinging drums and Kenny Ascher's cool piano setting up Kenny Rampton's trumpet solo.

Hendricks guests on Steve Allen
Steve Allen
1921 - 2000
composer/conductor
's "This Could be the Start of Something Big"—bringing back memories of Hendricks' version on Recorded In Person At The Trident (Smash Records, 1963)—and Pete Johnson
Pete Johnson
Pete Johnson
b.1904
piano
's "Roll 'em Pete." His voice may lack the precision of yesteryear but his enthusiasm and swing remain undiminished.

This Could Be The Start Of Something Big doesn't steer the big band into any new territory, but it certainly emphasizes its vitality and relevance. Farber's Orchestra swings like a big band should, whether playing standards or interpreting Farber's originals. It's a terrific ensemble, with a strong and engaging sound.


Track Listing: Bombers; Space Suit; Body and Soul; This Could be the Start of Something Big; It Is What It Is; Broadway; Roll 'em Pete; Midnight, the Stars and You; 52nd Street Theme; Short Yarn; The Man I Love; High Anxiety; Jack the Bellboy; Seems Like Old Times.

Personnel: Andy Farber: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute; Chuck Wilson: alto saxophone; Jay Brandford: alto saxophone; Dan Block: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Marc Phaneuf: tenor saxophone; Kurt Bacher: baritone saxophone; Brian Paresi; Bob Grillo: guitar; Kenny Ascher: piano; Jennifer Vincent: bass; Alvester Garnett: drums; Mark Sherman: vibraphone (8); Jon Hendricks: vocals (4, 7); John Hendricks & Co Singers (4, 7): Aria Hendricks, Kevin Fitzgerald Burke; Jerry Dodgion: alto saxophone (6).

Record Label: Black Warrior

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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