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David Caffey Jazz Orchestra: All In One

Jack Bowers By

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Although it is alluded to only in Kabir Sehgal's informative liner notes, the first four numbers on composer / arranger David Caffey's new CD comprise the All in One Suite, a musical salute to the social, cultural and ethnic diversity that has forever been a hallmark of American society as well as to the frame of mind that epitomizes its unique and enviable heritage and entreaty to "give us your tired, your poor." The suite is meant also to serve as a counsel that the recent anti-immigrant sentiment embraced by many Americans is not in their best interest.

Admirable as the suite is, the second half of the album is even more enticing, consisting as it does of four exemplary themes by Caffey undergirded by a number of emphatic solos including star turns by split-lead trumpeters Brad Goode and Greg Gisbert and superlative unison work by the brass and saxophone sections on the fast-moving "Shawtime"" (based on the chord changes of the late Woody Shaw's classic "Moontrane"). Guitarist Steve Kovalcheck and drummer Jim White also solo tastefully on "Shawtime," which, even though arguably the album's apogee, is only a wee step ahead of the robust and dazzling "Carnival Night," picturesque "Diversions" and especially the broad-shouldered finale, "Come on In Tenors," showcasing the laudable talents of Kenyon Brenner and Peter Sommer along with drummer White. Sommer and Gisbert are outstanding on "Carnival Night" (ably supported by White, percussionist Michael Truesdell and marimbaists Mike van Wirt and Michael Carp), pianist Dana Landry and soprano Wil Swindler likewise on "Diversions."

If the perception has arisen that there is a touch more heat on the album's second hemisphere than on its first, that is undeniably true, but the All in One Suite is no less persuasive on its own terms, thanks largely to Caffey's resourceful charts and decisive blowing by the ensemble. There's no better way to kick-start any enterprise than with a beguiling blues, which is precisely the plan here as Caffey pays homage to the origins of American jazz and popular music with "Shades of Blue," a mid-tempo charmer enfolding persuasive solos by Kovalcheck, White and Sommer. "Goodbye," which follows, pays its respects to the many immigrants who left their homeland to make the long and often perilous journey to America, while "Dreams" looks into the motives for such arduous enterprises, forsaking one's country and kinsmen for the promise of a better life in a faraway land. The suite ends with the upbeat "Celebration," an earnest salute to diversity whose splendid solos are by Brenner, Goode and White. Landry and Swindler (alto) have their say on "Goodbye," Landry and trombonist Mike Conrad on "Dreams."

As everyone knows (well, perhaps not everyone but surely more than a handful of devoted enthusiasts), there are two cardinal rules to which any successful composer / arranger must pledge his allegiance: first, write some really good music; and second, enlist the most accomplished players within hailing distance to give it spirit and substance. Luckily (for listeners, that is), Caffey, a perceptive and experienced orchestrator, earns high marks in both spheres. His charts are superb, the orchestra is letter-perfect, and All in One is consistently pleasurable from start to finish.

Track Listing: Shades Of Blue; Goodbye; Dreams; Celebration; Carnival Night; Shawtime; Diversions; Come On In Tenors

Personnel: David Caffey: composer, arranger, conductor; Greg Gisbert: trumpet; Brad Goode: trumpet; Derek Watson: trumpet; Shawn Williams: trumpet; Wil Swindler: alto, soprano sax, flute; Briana Harris: alto, soprano sax, flute; Peter Sommer: tenor sax, clarinet; Kenyon Brenner: tenor sax, clarinet; Joel Harris: baritone sax, flute; Nat Wickham: trombone; Mike Conrad: trombone; Adam Bartczak: trombone; Gary Mayne: bass trombone; Steve Kovalcheck: guitar; Dana Landry: piano; Erik Applegate: bass; Jim White: drums; Michael Truesdell: percussion (5); Mike van Wirt: marimba (5); Michael Carp: marimba (5).

Title: All In One | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Artist Alliance Records

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