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Steve Haines: And the Third Floor Orchestra

Jack Bowers By

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This is by and large lovely music, to be sure, but to paraphrase a Burger King ad from years gone by, "Where's the jazz?" Aside from a handful of perfunctory solos by soprano saxophonist Chad Eby and pianist Joey Calderazzo, there isn't much here. Instead, composer / arranger Steve Haines and the Third Floor Orchestra canvass the sort of rarefied landscapes reminiscent of "music to (fill in the blank) to" by such moonlit mid-twentieth century maestros as Percy Faith, Mantovani, Bobby Hackett, Jackie Gleason and their peers.

Surely that must have been Haines' game plan, and in that respect it succeeds rather well with a few caveats, one of which is the fact that Becca Stevens, who sings on every number save Haines' effective arrangement of Frederic Chopin's "Mazurka Opus 17 No. 4," is sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer amplitude of the orchestra, making lyrics hard to comprehend in spite of the fact that she apparently never strays more than an inch or so away from the mic (or perhaps because of that). Be that as it may, a sprinkling of listeners may be familiar with several of the lyrics, especially those by Canadians Neil Young ("Harvest Moon"), Leonard Cohen ("Hallelujah"), Gordon Lightfoot ("If You Could Read My Mind") and Kim Mitchell ("Patio Lanterns"). Elsewhere, they are on their own.

Stevens wrote one of the session's livelier numbers, "Canyon Dust," and co-wrote the engaging "No More" with Bill Stevens, while Haines composed "You" (introduced by Greg Hyslop's solo guitar) and the tranquil "What I've Seen," each of which is well-drawn but not especially memorable. Completing the program are Olle Johnny Lande / Ivar Hansson's serenade, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies," and Susan Drake / Julie Jennings' minute-long opener, "Here Are Our Hearts." The forty-one piece orchestra, complete with sixteen-member string section, is exemplary, carrying out conductor Kevin Geraldi's directions with alacrity and precision. The stars have thus been awarded on that basis, not because of any belief that this is basically a "jazz" album as the term is generally used and understood.

Track Listing: Here Are Our Hearts; No More; Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies; You; Harvest Moon; Mazurka Opus 17 No. 4; Patio Lanterns; What I’ve Seen; Hallelujah; Canyon Dust; If You Could Read My Mind.

Personnel: Steve Haines: leader, bass; Kevin Geraldi: conductor; Rusty Smith: trumpet; Brandon Lee: trumpet; Chad Eby: soprano sax; Seth Frack: trombone; Cameron Macmanus: trombone; Cameron Luke: bass trombone; Justin Worley: tuba; Carmen Eby: clarinet; Anthony Taylor: clarinet; Ron Rudkin: bass clarinet; Rebecca Libera: bassoon; Abigail Pack: French horn; Tanner West: French horn; Erika Boysen: piccolo, flute; Megan Makeever: flute; Ashley Barret: oboe; Anna Lampidis: English horn; Joey Calderazzo: piano; Greg Hyslop: guitar; Andrew Beach: bass; Kobie Watkins: drums; Eric Willie: percussion; Adam Snow: percussion; Marjorie Bagley: violin; Hannah Spear: violin; Abigail Bracewell: violin; Quashawn Chadwick: violin; Tracy Viator: violin; Madeleine Klee: violin; Dwyla Pearson: violin; Wenyin Deng: violin; Scott Rawls: viola; Claire Fowler: viola; Katie Bracewell: viola; Dave Phillips: viola; Alex Ezerman: cello; Brianna Tam: cello; Bethany Uhler: cello; Miguel Zaparolli: cello; Becca Stevens: voice; Mira Eby: background voice (5).

Title: And the Third Floor Orchestra | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Justin Time Records

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