274

The Hank Levy Alumni Band: An 'Odd-Time' Was Had by All

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The Hank Levy Alumni Band: An 'Odd-Time' Was Had by All As a rule, a big-band album's song titles are followed by the name(s) of composer and arranger, playing time, and perhaps the names of the various soloists, if there are any. It's rare that one sees time signatures as well, but the late Hank Levy wasn't your garden variety, four-beats-to-the-measure writer. To Levy, who wrote for such musical pacesetters as Stan Kenton and Don Ellis, time was an elastic ingredient, to be expanded, compressed and otherwise adapted to suit the composer's purpose. And so it is that on this two-disc concert performance by the Hank Levy Alumni Band, taped in Feburary '04, An 'Odd-Time' Was Had by All.

The 19-member Alumni Band, formed by trumpeter Ray Disney, is comprised of musicians who studied and/or performed with Levy and are dedicated to keeping his music alive. This is the ensemble's second album; the first, Hank at Home, was recorded four years ago at a nursing home in Baltimore where Levy spent his last few years, with Hank directing, only six months before his death there in September '01. While the sound on that earlier recording is perceptibly better than on this live date, there's no lack of enthusiasm or commitment, and the band charges headlong into Levy's labyrinthine charts, letting it all hang out on the ebullient Disc 2 finale, "Would You Believe.

All of the compositions save one, Rodgers and Hart's "Little Girl Blue, a showcase for the trombone section and Disney's flugelhorn, are Levy's. Tenor saxophonist Barry Caudill is a standout on three — "Southern Exposure (5/4), "Whiplash (7/4, 14/8) and "Time for a Change (9/4). Disney solos with Caudill on "Journey to Capricorn (5/4) and with alto Bruce Coates on "Early Riser (7/4) and "Chiapas (5/4). Others who are heard to good advantage include Ron Diehl on alto, soprano and piccolo, Vaughn Ambrose on tenor, Ken Ebo on trombone, Paul Morawski on piano, Skip Grasso on guitar and Steve Ashcraft on drums. "Little Girl Blue is in standard 4/4 time, as are "Thetis, "Would You Believe and a part of "Passacaglia and Fugue.

In commenting on the sound, I did not mean to imply that it is less than acceptable, merely that it is not as transparent as would be the case with most studio recordings. Ensemble passages are marginally less well-defined, and the rhythm section, except for Ashcraft, is occasionally inaudible, but that's not enough to intrude on one's pleasure. For me, the pleasure is amplified by the appearance on Disc 2 of three of Levy's most inspired compositions, "Chiapas, "Time for a Change and "With the Old Man in Mind, the last a buoyant tribute to Kenton.

Although I can't speak for Hank, I'm pretty sure he'd be proud of his alumni, who put on quite a show while breathing new life into his unique and stylish compositions and arrangements. Viva Hank!


Track Listing: Disc 1 : Hanks Opener; Samba Siete; Journey to Capricorn; Early Riser; Southern Exposure; Passacaglia and Fugue (42:28)
Disc 2: Whiplash; Thetis; Little Girl Blue; Chiapas; Time for a Change; With the Old Man in Mind; Would You Believe (42:06).

Personnel: Gil Rathel, Chris Hutton, Dave Makowiecki, Mike Hufford, Ray Disney, trumpet; Ron Diehl, Bruce Coates, Barry Caudill, Vaughn Ambrose, Tim Brown, reeds; Ken Ebo, Craig Fager, Tedd Wilson, Joy Bravin, Bernie Robier, trombone; Paul Morawski, piano; Skip Grasso, guitar; Justin Lewis, bass; Steve Ashcraft, drums.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Sonority Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Bombogenic" CD/LP/Track Review Bombogenic
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 21, 2016
Read "The Beast" CD/LP/Track Review The Beast
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Real Feels - Live Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Real Feels - Live Vol. 1
by Mark F. Turner
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Known-Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Collage of Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Collage of Moments
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 17, 2017
Read "Montréal" CD/LP/Track Review Montréal
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 11, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!