This is a sonically gorgeous recording. James Jabbo Ware beautifully orchestrates, exploiting the colors of the various instruments to their fullest, and he frames the great soloists in different ways from solo spot to solo spot.
Much of the music here has a narrative element. "Strange Land starts with a mallets on tom-toms groove but soon breaks down into string tremolos that might suggest visual images of the strange land. Then a totally different groove begins after the tremolos fade to silence... perhaps the visitor to the strange land begins to get his or her bearings and starts exploring the land again. Listen and you will come up with your own images.
On "And Here We Go Again, JD Parran is featured with an amazing orchestration behind him. Parran has a great sound and great chops on the clarinet; the solo here stands out with excitement. Eddie Allen follows on trumpet with a perfectly balanced solo featuring shades of fleet bebop lines, growls from the Bubber Miley vocabulary, and everything in between. Allen is accomplishedindeed, he's obviously done a lot of homework and yet he is very much in possession of his own voice.
"Saint Louis Train is a blast. Eventually using the "Night Train riff, this piece really integrates the strings, the marimba, the grooving rhythm section, and the piano with great orchestral skill, but perhaps more striking is the overall effect is one of fun, something that's missing from a lot of modern jazz.
It should be noted that Warren Smith's great drumming drives and swings the orchestra and really evokes the spirit of Ellington's drummer Sam Woodyard on tracks like "In the Spirit Of. Bassists Leon Dorsey and David Moore, pianist Hilton Ruiz, and percussionist Thurman Barker also make very strong contributions to the entire feel and sound of this wonderful recording as supporting players.
This disc was recorded live at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on July 14, 2001, and the sound quality is excellent.
Track Listing: Intro #1 (In The Beginning); Strange Land; And Here We Are Again; Interlude; Saint Louis Train; Give Me A Moment; In The Spirit Of; Intro #2; The Ultimate Force; Don't Forget Who I Am.
Personnel: J.D. Parran: alto saxophone, clarinet; Paavo Carey: tenor saxophone, flute; Salim
Washington: tenor saxophone; Patience Higgins: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Eddie
Allen, Cecil Bridgewater, Chris Albert: trumpets; Clifton Anderson, Richard Harper:
trombones; Bill Lowe: bass trombone, tuba; Marshall Sealy, Mark Taylor: French horns;
Gwendolyn Laster, Carolos Baptiste: violins; Crystal Garner, Melanie Dyer: violas; Clarissa
Howell, Nioka Workman: cellos; Leon Dorsey, David Moore: double bass; Hilton Ruiz:
piano; Warren Smith: drums; Thurman Barker: percussion; James Jabbo Ware: conductor.