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Any discussion pertaining to the state of contemporary big band music must inevitably include the John Fedchock New York Big Band (JFNYBB), for its sound exemplifies what the genre is all about. Together for almost two decades, this is a seasoned ensemble of world-class musicians led by Grammy-nominated trombonist John Fedchock. Up & Running is his latest release of five new originals and five rearranged standards of blowing the house down big band orchestrations.
Grammy-nominated for "Best Instrumental Arrangement of "Caribbean Fire Dance in 2003, this master arranger weaves his magic again, best typified by the George Gershwin classic "Embraceable You. Fedchock's arrangement here transforms and almost deconstructs the tune with, as he states, a "thoroughly re-harmonized melody that does make identifying the piece a tad challenging. The opening title track comes charging out of the gate with a burst of brass in a quick moving pace which embraces solid solo performances by Fedchock and trumpeter Scott Wendholt.
One of the many highlights on this album is Fedchock's arrangement of John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice, essentially a straight-ahead line that he turns into a nine minute percussive Latin jazz groove with Bobby Sanabria on timbales, Charles Pillow on the soprano and the leader's voice on trombone . As a player, Fedchock shines with his solos on the soft slow ballad of "Dedicated To You, a number he dedicates to all of the fans that have stood by the JFNYBB since its first release , New York Big Band (Reservoir, 1995). "Alfie's Theme, composed for the soundtrack of the 1966 film Alfie, provides a showcase for master baritone man Gary Smulyan.
A former member of the great Woody Herman Big Band, Fedchock pays homage with his composition "The Ariztocrat. All of the soloist on this track, plus five additional players in the band, spent time with the legendary bandleader. The finale, "Mr. Dudley, pays tribute to the city of New Orleans and features Pillow on the bass clarinet and Barry Ries on the trumpet in a non-traditional tune and a departure from the music heard on the other selections.
Up & Running is one downright sensational session of some of the best contemporary big band music that jazz audiences will take note of and aficionados of the genre will relish. Of course one would expect nothing less from John Fedchock and his world-class orchestra.
Track Listing: Up & Running; Embraceable You; Moment's Notice; Dedicated To You; Alfie's Theme; J Birds; Elvin's Empire; Theme For Ernie; The Ariztocrat; Mr. Dudley.
Personnel: John Fedchock: leader and trombone; Mark Vinci: saxophones; Charles Pillow: saxophones; Rich Perry: saxophones; Rick Margitza: saxophones; Gary Smulyan: saxophones; Tony Kadleck: trumpet; Craig Johnson: trumpet; Scott Wendholt: trumpet (1,3,5,7,10); Kerry MacKillop: trumpet (2,4,6,8,9); Barry Ries: trumpet; Keith O'Quinn: trombone; Steve Davis: trombone (1,2,6,8,10); Marshal Gilkes: trombone (3,4,5,7,9); George Flynn: trombone; Allen Farnham: piano; Lynn Seaton: bass (4,5,7,9), Dick Sarpola: bass (1,2,6,8,10); Dave Ratajczak: drums; Bobby Sanabria: congas, timbales (3).