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The Whitworth College Jazz Ensemble: 2004

Jack Bowers By

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When a jazz ensemble at a relatively small college sounds as sharp as this one, you know the director is making the right moves. Three cheers to Dan Keberle, the guiding force behind the Whitworth College ensemble from Spokane, WA, and a big hand for the ensemble itself, which takes Keberle's cues and translates them into big band jazz of the highest quality.

Keberle's kids (in one case, literally) recorded this album in April 2004, two months after earning a blue ribbon at the annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, their fifth in eight years. They're certainly in blue-ribbon form here, playing with the sort of command and composure that belies their comparative youthfulness. The ten instrumental tracks complement a pair of nondescript vocals by Keberle's daughter Jessica ("You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To,"? "This Can't Be Love"?). Sorry to have to say that—I'm sure dad won't be pleased to hear it—but integrity demands an honest appraisal.

Everything else is Grade A, with special praise for guitarist Mike Frederick, who solos marvelously on "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise,"? "My Shining Hour,"? "You Don't Know What Love Is"? and "Limehouse Blues,"? sounding at times like a cross between Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery. Tenor Nick Timoshuk is splendid on his feature, "You've Changed,"? and there are agreeable solos elsewhere by trumpeters Brendan O'Melveny, Josh Shelton and Eric Nielsen; alto/soprano Chris Parkin, baritone Claire Thames, trombonists Peter Hatch and Crystal Hayes, pianist Eric Hjelt and drummer David Sloan.

The album includes two originals, Keberle's "Down Under"? and Bret Zvacek's "It Might Be You."? The rest is from the Great American Songbook, with heavy-duty charts by Keberle, Matt Harris, Quincy Jones, Mark Taylor, Tom Matta, Rob Tapper, Tom Molter and Ryan Keberle, none of which pose any problems for Keberle's strapping crew. A blue-chip recording by an impressive ensemble that is worthy of every award it earns.


Track Listing: Softly as in a Morning Sunrise; Moanin

Personnel: Dan Keberle, director; Kevin Swisher, Brendan O

Title: 2004 | Year Released: 2005


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