Perhaps setting a record for longevity among contemporary big bands, the Cincinnati based0Blue Wisp Big Band celebrates its 29th anniversary with a release of exciting arrangements of tunes that, for the most part, are composed by well-known musicians. There are cuts by Steve Allen, Bill Evans, Bob Brookmeyer among others, wrapped in captivating arrangements by Matt Harris and Larry Dickson. Not satisfied with simply knee jerk imitations of approaches taken by others, the music has been given a new look by these two excellent chart makers. J. J. Johnson's "Lament" for example, is more lyrical and less bop oriented than one usually hears it as Joe Gaudio's tenor sax comes front and center for a note bending solo. Another album winner is the blue tinged rendition of Chick Corea's "Tones for Joan's Bones" led by Al Nori's trumpet and Herb Aronoff's tenor. This track also puts the spotlight on each of the tight playing of the bands sections. It falls upon the shoulders of drummer Jon von Ohlen to drive the group on the killer diller numbers and lay back when the less hectically paced stuff takes over. He does it as well as any big band drummer extant. The charts also recognize that a good band must be able to be effective with gentle material, not solely relying on the high-flying stuff. This group shows it can change rhythmic courses, without losing any of its vitality, with a lovely rendition of Clare Fischer's "Morning".
The consistently high performance level of the band over the years, and on this CD, is in no small measure due to the fact that 13 of the 16 members have been with the organization for the duration. Instead of letting longevity settle them into a rut, this their 6th CD exudes a freshness that is the result of avoiding playing the same old stuff by having a steady flow of new material enter the band book. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Winding Way; Show-Type Tune; Well, You Needn't; Lament; Tones for Joan's Bones; Funk Dumplin'; Waltz New; Straight Track; Hum; Morning; Forgotten Memories; Just in Time
Personnel: Mike Andres - Alto & Soprano Sax/Flute; Jim Sherrick - Alto Sax/Flute; Herb Aronoff, Joe Gaudio - Tenor Sax/Clarinet; Larry Dickson - Baritone Sax; Jeff Folkens, Kevin Moore, Jerry Conrad, Al Nori, Brad Goode - Trumpet; Paul Piller, Clarence Pawn, Jim Petz, Gary Langhorst - Trombone; Steve Schmidt - Piano; Mike Sharfe - Bass; John von Ohlen - Drums
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.