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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.

Whatever happened to big bands that swing? While the big bands of yesteryear provided music for dancing and a healthy appreciation for swinging soloists and hip arrangements, that isn't the case today. Many of the most popular—and critically acclaimed—large ensembles in modern times are winning fans with highbrow conceptualism and compositions that, as brilliant as they are, won't have anybody dancing anytime soon.

Fortunately, a few venues in New York City are still happy to house some groups that still uphold a Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
-type vision of what a big band should, and can, be. Birdland, for example, still presents The Birdland Big Band—with a healthy dose of Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
-style flair, provided by director/drummer Tommy Igoe
Tommy Igoe
Tommy Igoe

drums
—every Friday night and, from 2007 to 2009, saxophonist/arranger Andy Farber
Andy Farber
Andy Farber
b.1969
composer/conductor
held court with his group at this midtown house of jazz. Farber clearly appreciates the finer things in life—like nice suits, Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, Basie and "Body & Soul." While his weekly performances at this club were occasionally bogged down with too much banter, the music was all class, and fourteen of Farber's arrangements here attest to the strengths of his writing and playing.

His originals show great variety, ranging from flashy flag waving ("Bombers") to faux-sophisticated ballroom fare ("Space Suit"). Dan Block—who proves to be one of the most consistently engaging soloists on this album—contributes some stellar clarinet work to the latter tune, while Farber is first rate during his solo on the former. Farber also excels in his use of Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
-like shadings on his own "Short Yarn."

Standards—like the tenor saxophone anthem "Body & Soul" and "The Man I Love"— receive the red carpet treatment, but Farber also puts his own stamp on these pieces. "Body & Soul," with its slightly faster than usual tempo and some pastoral accompaniment from the winds, stands apart from so many paint-by-numbers takes on this song. Ditto "The Man I Love," which benefits from the odd, yet perfectly natural shifts from the band's bottom-end.

As if this wasn't enough, Farber delivers some silken sounds in a romantic setting ("Midnight, The Stars & You"), a Monk masterpiece that the man himself never recorded ("52nd Street Theme"), music from the pen of Mel Brooks ("High Anxiety") and a pair of tunes featuring the one and only Jon Hendricks
Jon Hendricks
Jon Hendricks
b.1921
vocalist
on vocals (the title track and "Roll 'Em Pete"). While Farber's band is no nostalgia act, he isn't afraid to show his allegiance to the great artists that have entered the great beyond, and—to quote the closing song on this album—it thankfully "Seem Like Old Times" when listening to Andy Farber and his orchestra.


Track Listing: Bombers; Space Suit; Body & Soul; This Could Be The Start Of Something Big; It Is What It Is; Broadway; Roll 'em Pete; Midnight, The Stars & 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 Bradford: alto saxophone; Dan Block: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Marc Phaneuf: tenor saxophone; Kurt Bacher: baritone saxophone; Brian Pareschi: trumpet; Kenny Rampton: trumpet; Irv Grossman: trumpet; Alex Norris: trumpet; Art Baron: trombone; Wayne Goodman: trombone; Harvey Tibbs: trombone; Max Seigel: bass trombone; Bob Grillo: guitar; Kenny Ascher: piano; Jennifer Vincent: bass; Alvester Garnett: drums; Mark Sherman: vibraphone (8); Jon Hendricks: vocals (4, 7); Jerry Dodgion: alto saxophone (6); Aria Hendricks: vocals (4); Kevin Fitzgerald Burke: vocals (4).

Record Label: Black Warrior

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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