How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This is the third recording by the UNF Jazz Ensemble, and it is somewhat more daring — but no less persuasive — than the first two. No, my ears had not deceived me; this is without a doubt (and in spite of an almost complete turnover in personnel since its last album) one of the most accomplished college Jazz ensembles in the country, and perhaps anywhere else. The title, by the way, refers back to those earlier releases, which were, in order, Have You Heard? and Haven’t You Heard Yet? The late Rich Matteson, who founded the program, directed that first recording, Bruce Silva the second, and Don Zentz does the honors on this one. But no matter who’s waving the baton, the ensemble comes out smokin’ and lets no chart, however sophisticated or demanding, impede its progress. Lisa Kelly, the lone incumbent from Haven’t You Heard Yet?, is a first–rate Jazz singer, as she demonstrates on “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me,” “My Ship” and “Travelin’ Light.” The band, meanwhile, has to dodge mine fields and jump through hoops to subdue Jim McNeely’s playful, fugue–like “Off the Cuff,” Maria Schneider’s darkly textured “Waxwing” and especially Steve Owen’s mercurial arrangement of the Gershwins’ “I Got Rhythm” (retitled “I Got What?”). No sweat, compadre. Just listen to the sax section on “Rhythm.” Extraordinary! — as is the trumpet solo by Marcus Parsley. (Another Marcus, surnamed Printup, blew a pretty mean trumpet for the UNF ensemble a number of years ago; wonder whatever became of him?) Parsley is also heard on “Moten Swing” and Mercer Ellington’s “Blue Serge,” but he’s not the only convincing soloist on the premises. Others making an indelible impression include tenor David Carey (featured on the Bill Holman arrangement of Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays”), pianist Bobby Thornton, alto Dan Nicholson, trombonists Tim Pitchford and Dylan Marvin, guitarist Scott Jefferson and flugel David Champagne. The lead trumpet (Jason Lichau?) is outstanding, as is the rhythm section of Thornton, Jefferson, bassist Farris Nix and drummer Tim Stombaugh. A mere college group, you say? Well, one isn’t likely to hear many professional bands that play better than this, individually or collectively.
Track listing: Off the Cuff; Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me; Prelude to a Kiss; My Ship; Blue Serge; I’ve Got What?; Yesterdays; Moten Swing; Travelin’ Light; Waxwing (57:45).
Dan Nicholson, Dan Silva, alto, soprano saxes, clarinet, flute; David Carey, tenor, soprano saxes, clarinet, flute; Eric Riehm, tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Steve Moffett, baritone sax, bass clarinet, flute, clarinet; Jason Lichau, David Champagne, Marcus Parsley, Jim Morey, Matt Creswell (6, 7), trumpet; Tim Pitchford, Dylan Marvin, John Leschitz, Major Bailey, Pat Booth (6, 7), trombone; Bobby Thornton, piano; Farris Nix, bass; Scott Jefferson, guitar; Tim Stombaugh, drums; Lisa Kelly, vocals.