The Flatirons, I believe, are the mountains adjacent to Boulder, Colorado, and the 1997–98 editions of UC’s Jazz Ensemble 1 under director Greg Carroll strive earnestly to awaken them with this clamorous and colorful studio session that encompasses music composed by Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Bob Mintzer, Maria Schneider and Michael Brecker, among others. The ensemble is generally alert and responsive (although it makes hash of the “dixieland” passages in Bird’s “Donna Lee”), while soloists are as respectable as one usually encounters at the college level (with few prominent voices among them). Schneider (“Wyrgly,” “Coming About”), Mintzer (“Weird Blues”), Brecker (“Peep”) and Berg (“Friday Night at the Cadillac Club,” scored by Mike Crotty) represent the new wave of forward–looking big–band composers, Parker and Ellington (“Come Sunday”) the more conventional (although both were considered radical in their day). Straddling the fence is Ryan Haines’ hot–tempered “Tierrasanta,” which draws its creative impulse from both traditions, embodies aspects of Latin Jazz, and is as tantalizing in its way as anything on the menu (thanks in part to the recording’s most enterprising solo, by alto saxophonist Todd Skinner, and purposeful support from the rhythm section and its anchor, drummer Carter McLean). Other solos worth noting include those by Greg Perkins (tenor) and Tom Ball (euphonium) on “Cadillac Club.” UC apparently has an aggressive Jazz Studies program, and while waking the Flatirons may be too ambitious a goal, the ensemble could persuade the residents of Boulder and its environs to sit up and take notice.
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Track listing: Donna Lee; Weird Blues; Come Sunday; Wyrgly; Peep; Coming About; Friday Night at the Cadillac Club; Tierrasanta (68:57).