The Emerald City Jazz Orchestra is made up of solid jazz personages from the Seattle area's large and active jazz community. The Orchestra's maiden album is made highly listenable by fresh and innovative arrangements. Among the songs that stand out are a medium tempo "It's only a Paper Moon" with a Count Basie like piano by Reuel Lubag leading the way, alternately interrupted with measures from blaring brass and softer reeds. This arrangement is characteristic of the imaginative book put together for this session. The Paper Moon chart was honed by John Wikan. But it is Matso Limtiaco who doubles on baritone sax, who is responsible for most of the freshness on this album. Limtiaco wrote nine of the thirteen charts and composed the distinctive "Oregon Coast Sketches". One hears the influences of Bill Holman and Bob Florence and others in the work of this chart maker.
The album is also notable for some distinguished soloing as well as for its well-honed ensemble playing. Mark Taylor's alto on Nancy and Thomas Marriott's trumpet on "I Remember Clifford" are two that rate special mention. The latter sounds like the way Stan Kenton would have performed it rather than a Gil Evans or Gerald Wilson. The combination of the individuality of the arrangements and the capacity of the soloists to carry them off come together on the arrangement of "Waltzing Mathilda" which may raise the eyes of Aussies everywhere with its quirky rhythmic patterns and abrupt coda by pianist Lubag's short quote from "Billy Boy". That the group can rhapsodize comes through with a lovely rendition of Stardust with leader Kevin Seeley's trumpet on top.
Performing in a big band concert mode, The Emerald City Jazz Orchestra shows it is one of the best on today's scene working in the jazz genre. This album is highly recommended.
Track Listing: It's Only a Paper Moon; Love for Sale; So What; Nancy; Kites' Moonlight and Mo's; Tolovana Stomp; I Remember Clifford; New Blues; Very Early; Waltzing Mathilda; Well You Needn't; Stardust
Personnel: Kevin Seeley, Greg Lyons, Thomas Marriott. Jim Sisko, Rich Sumstad, Rich Wetzel - Trumpet; Greg Koehler, David Marriott, Jeremy Ostrander. Bob Phillips, Fred Hawkinson, Jeff Newell. Chris Angelos, Chris Laughbon - Trombone; Mark Taylor - Alto Sax; Rob Davis, Travis Ranney - Tenor Sax; Matso Limtiaco - Baritone Sax; Eric Eagle, John Wikan - Drums; Reule Lubag - Piano; Bryce Van Parys, Andy Zadozny - Bass