The Commodores are to the Navy as the Airmen of Note are to the Air Force or the Blues and Jazz Ambassadors to the Army. In other words, the cream of the crop. Whatever Directions
these ensembles take, you may rest assured they will be musically perceptive and aesthetically pleasurable.
The over-all performance on the Commodores' tenth and most recent recording is excellent, but that is a given and no more than customary; beyond that, half of the album's dozen selections were written and all but one arranged by members of the ensemble, and that is where the shipmates shine brightest, enriching three superb compositions ("Simm Sayin,'" "We Three," "The Search") by tenor saxophonist Philip Burlin and others by pianist Dan LaMaestra ("The Escapist"), alto Stephen Williams ("Woody's Two for You") and baritone Robert Holmes ("Directions"). If "Woody's Two" doesn't cause you to grin from ear to ear while tapping your feet you may need to have your pulse checked, as chances are it's on hiatus.
Trumpeters Timothy Stanley and Justin Kisor (yes, another of the trumpet-playing Kisor brothers, who number at least four) duel implacably on the buoyant "Woody's Two," as do trombonists Jamie Way and Jennifer Krupa on Alvin Walker's lively "Nevermore." Holmes arranged that number, as he did the Gershwin classic, "A Foggy Day" (one of three vehicles for the Commodores' bright and personable vocalist, Yolanda Pelzer), while Krupa arranged Wes Montgomery
's bustling "Four on Six." The other charts are by Williams (Pete McCann
's "Yes, My Friend"), LaMaestra (Dave Frishberg
's "Our Love Rolls On") and Robert Vuono (Wayne Shanklin's "The Big Hurt"), the last two of which encompass sunny vocals by Pelzer.
Besides those already mentioned, the blue-chip soloists include Williams, LaMaestra, Burlin, Holmes, William Mulligan (soprano on "We Three," alto on "Four on Six"), tenor Luis Hernandez, guitarist Gary Malvaso (outstanding on "Four on Six"), bassist Peter Revell and drummer John Parsons who kick-starts the ensemble's able-bodied rhythm section. This is music that's a pleasure to hear on land, sea or air. In other words, it's the Commodores.
Tracks and Personnel Gifts
Tracks: Who's Bob?; Iroquois; Riding the E-Train; Yesterdays; St. Louis Blues; Whipple's Retaliation; The Gift; Bluesette; Schizo; When the Saints Go Marching In; Hey, That's No Lady!
Personnel: Allen Carter: leader, composer, arranger, drums; Wayne Bergeron, Gary Grant, Warren Luening, Bob Summers: trumpet; Dan Higgins: alto, soprano sax, piccolo, flute; Greg Huckins: alto sax, flute; Brian Scanlon, Rusty Higgins: tenor sax, clarinet; Tom Peterson: baritone sax; Andy Martin, Alex Iles, Alan Kaplan: trombone; Bill Reichenbach: bass trombone; Christian Jacob: piano, organ; Gary Solt: guitar; Ken Wild: bass. don't walk too far
Tracks: Mellow Drama; Janoschs Welt; Lea Lucia; Don't Walk Too Far; Never Let Me Go; Default Value; Simpler Is Better.
Personnel: David Grottschreiber: composer, arranger, music director; Dave Blaser, Linus Hunkeler, Matthias Spillmann, Aurel Nowak: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tobias Meier, Florian Egli: alto sax, flute; Christoph Irniger, Rafael Schilt: tenor sax; Matthias Tschopp: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Andreas Tschopp, Bernhard Bamert, Silvio Cadotsch: trombone; Jan Schreiner: bass trombone, tuba; Hannes Burgi: piano; Keisuke Matsuno: guitar; Raffaele Bossard: bass; Alex Huber: drums; Karin Meier: vocals. We Take No Prisoners
Tracks: Flight 643; We Take No Prisoners; Peace on Earth; Almost Lucky; It Is Peculiar; The Princess and the Monster.
Personnel: Joris Teepe: leader, composer, arranger, bass; Michael P. Mossman, John Eckert, Vitaly Golovnev, Josh Evans: trumpet; Mark Gross, Craig Bailey, Don Braden (5, 6), Peter Brainin, Adam Kolker (1-4), Jason Marshall: reeds; Noah Bless, Don Tucker, Stafford Hunter: trombone; Earl McIntyre: bass trombone; Jon Davis: piano; Bruce Arnold: guitar; Gene Jackson: drums. Special guestRashied Ali (4): drums. Transitions
Tracks: Meta Mambo; Interlude 1 (Ernesto); Transition; Interlude 2 (Steve, Daniel); Without a Paddle; Interlude 3 (Tim); Empty Room, Bare Walls; Interlude 4 (Ernesto, Steve, Daniel); And Now for Something Completely Different; Spring Rounds (Variations on a Theme by Igor Stravinsky); Interlude 5 (Daniel); Komla's Saudade; Interlude 6 (Tim); Bats; Interlude 7 (Steve, Daniel); Triple Play.
Personnel: Ted Pease: composer, arranger; Ken Cervenka, Walter Platt: trumpet, flugelhorn; Daniel Ian Smith: soprano, alto, baritone sax, flute; Dino Govoni: tenor sax, flute; Tim Ray: piano; Keala Kaumeheiwa: bass; Steve Langone: drums, cymbals; Ernesto Diaz: percussion. Soul Searching
Tracks: Laura; Yes or No; Cerulean Skies; Sumo; John Coltrane Suite: Looking Back; Soul Searching; Concerto to End All Concertos.
Personnel: Robert Baca: director; Chris Bresette, Tom Krochock, John Raymond, Josh Pauly, Josh Nims: trumpet; Jim Geddes, Corey Cunningham: alto sax; Evan Benidt, Aaron Hedenstrom: tenor sax; Brian Handeland: baritone sax; Kyle Siegrist, Rachel Carter, Matt Hiel, Justin Verhasselt: trombone; Mike Renneke (3): accordion; Michael Wolter: guitar; Brandon Covelli: piano; Andrew Detra: bass; Kyle Good, Brian Claxton: drums; Stephanie Benson (3): voice. Special guest artistJiggs Whigham (1): trombone. Directions
Tracks: Simm Sayin'; Nevermore; The Big Hurt; Yes, My Friend; The Escapist; We Three; Our Love Rolls On; Woody's You for Two; Directions; Four on Six; A Foggy Day; The Search.
Personnel: Capt. George Thompson: CO, leader; Christopher Walker, Nicholas Cooper, Justin Kisor, Timothy Stanley: trumpet; William Mulligan: alto, soprano sax, clarinet; Stephen Williams: alto sax, flute; Philip Burlin: tenor sax, flute; Luis Hernandez: tenor sax, clarinet; Robert Holmes: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Jamie Way, Jennifer Krupa, Mark Morgan, David Perkel: trombone; Dan LaMaestra: piano; Gary Malvaso: guitar; Peter Revell: bass; John Parsons: drums; Yolanda Pelzer: vocals.