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Evanston Township High School Jazz Ensemble and Combo: ...All Save the Blues!

Jack Bowers By

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The Evanston Township (IL) Jazz Ensemble (six tracks) and six-piece Combo (four) play respectably well in this program of Jazz standards and a couple of original charts recorded in May '97. While it's obvious that these are high-school musicians (the solos are always a dead giveaway), director Dave Fodor had his young charges well prepared for their visit to the studio, and the lapses in technique that are inescapable among players at this level aren't unreasonably intrusive. Nor are they to be censured, as this is the crucible in which younger players learn the basics of Jazz and forge their own musical identitites. Some of them may indeed become the Jazz standard-bearers of tomorrow. So let us bear with them while they work things out. Back to ETHS: the large ensemble fares reasonably well on such oft-played charts as Sammy Nestico's "Basie Straight Ahead," Neal Hefti's "Li'l Darlin'," Jobim's "No More Blues" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind," and wrestles valiantly with the more challenging originals, Antonio García's "Midwest Fest" (on which García, an instructor at nearby Northwestern University, trades trombone licks with the band's Mario Davis) and Doug Beach's "Flashback." "Fest" calls for a walking, Basie-like groove that is slightly beyond the band's capabilities at this point, while "Flashback's" tight unison passages for brass and reeds disclose problems with articulation and power that time and experience should erase. Davis's trombone is the dominant voice in the sextet, with trumpeter Dave Young, pianist Josh Cooper and guitarist Jesse Lava also having their say (Young is especially effective on Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz"). The title track is a rap, presumably by Davis or Young, whose focal point is the blues. There is one other vocal, by Mishelle Fuller ("Georgia on My Mind"). While ...All Save the Blues! is unmistakably the work of a high-school ensemble, those who made it possible deserve praise and support for giving these young people an opportunity to play Jazz as they strive to master its encompassing vocabulary.


Track Listing: Basie Straight Ahead; Li'l Darlin'; The Midwest Fest; No More Blues; Georgia on My Mind; Flashback; Have You Met Miss Jones; . . .All Save the Blues!; Jitterbug Waltz; Rhythmaning; Stardust (50:02).

Personnel: David Young, Eric Lounsbury, Andrew Wagner, Gabe Weiss, Simon Goldberg, trumpets; Mario Davis, Peter Lehner, Karl Kaliher, Joe Benson, trombones; Cameron Rex, bass trombone; Josh Brugh, Jennifer Greene, alto sax; Mike Miller, Geoff Hamilton, tenor sax; Spencer Parks, baritone sax; Matt Lurie, piano; Jesse Lava, guitar; Charlie Short, bass; Miles Levy, drums. Guest artist: Antonio Garc

| Record Label: ETHS | Style: Big Band


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