Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

146

The Empire Jazz Orchestra: Anniversary

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Any time a big band in this country marks its tenth anniversary (or even its first), it’s a cause for celebration — which is exactly what the Empire Jazz Orchestra did last October, taping much of the music on its third album during a gala decade concert at its home base, Schenectady (NY) Community College.

As is its custom, the EJO spans eras and canvasses styles from swing to bop, standard to contemporary with historic charts by Don Redman, Dizzy Gillespie / Gil Fuller, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Gil Evans, Charles Mingus and Bill Holman reinforcing cutting-edge works by Frank Zappa, Daniel Barry, Ed Palermo and Maria Schneider. While the listener will have to decide for him / herself if that’s a good idea, there’s seldom a dull moment as the EJO repeatedly switches gears and moves from one genre to another.

Must keep the audience alert and on its toes too, as there’s no way to anticipate what the orchestra may do next, with Redman’s “Chant of the Weed” followed by Daniel Barry’s “Baby Weezer,” Mingus’ salute to Lester Young, “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” by Schneider’s “Gumba Blue” and a trio of Zappa’s quirky brainchildren, “Toads of the Short Forest” and “Who Are the Brain Police? / Holiday in Berlin,” smartly arranged by Palermo.

The EJO chooses one number from the American Songbook, and it’s a beaut, Johnny Burke / Jimmy Van Heusen’s rhapsodic “Like Someone in Love,” charmingly scored by the EJO’s Jim Corigliano. That precedes the album’s lone vocal, by Colleen Pratt on Ellington’s “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” and the crowd-pleasing finale, Holman’s bold and breathtaking “Malaga.”

The opener, Dizzy’s mercurial “Things to Come,” would challenge even the most seasoned orchestra. The EJO handles it well, in spite of uneven sound which erases any doubt that this is a concert recording. Redman’s four-square “Chant of the Weed” carries the band back to the swing era before Barry’s elaborate “Baby Weezer” dictates a more contemporary course. Corigliano (alto sax, clarinet) is showcased on “Weed,” pianist Cliff Brucker on Strayhorn’s smooth “Cashmere Cutie,” tenor Kevin Barcomb on “Porkpie Hat,” guitarist Tony Sano on “Brain Police / Berlin.” Barcomb and Corigliano interpose absorbing comments on Evans’ arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s picturesque “Arab Dance,” as do Sano and soprano Keith Pray on “Weezer,” Brucker and tenor Brian Patneaude on “Gumba Blue,” Barcomb and keyboardist Nicholas Lue on “Toads,” Barcomb, Brucker and flugel David Friedman on “Someone in Love,” Patneaude, trombonist Chris Barron and trumpeter Tony Speranza on “Malaga.”

Another splendid performance by the adventurous EJO, which seems at home in any musical domain. Sound is problematic but the orchestra rises above it to produce a pleasurable hour of wide-ranging big-band jazz.

Contact: ejo@energyproductions.com. Schenectady Community College, 78 Washington Avenue, Schenectady, NY 12305 (phone 518–381–1232; e–mail mecklewa@gw.sunysccc.edu; web site, www.sunysccc.edu).


Track Listing: Things to Come; Chant of the Weed; Baby Weezer; Cashmere Cutie; Arab Dance; Goodbye Porkpie Hat; Gumba Blue; Toads of the Short Forest; Who Are the Brain Police? / Holiday in Berlin; Like Someone in Love; I

Personnel: William Meckley, music director, conductor; Jim Corigliano, alto, soprano sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo; Lee Russo, alto sax, clarinet, flute; Leo Russo (12), alto sax; Keith Pray (3, 8, 9, 12), alto, soprano sax; Kevin Barcomb, tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Brian Patneaude, tenor, baritone sax, clarinet, flute; Brett Wery, baritone, tenor sax, bass clarinet, clarinet, flute; Pete Shaulinski (8, 9), baritone sax; Jon Bronk, Scott Thompson, Jeff Calistri, David Friedman, Terry Gordon, trumpet, flugelhorn; Tony Speranza (8, 9, 12), Vito Speranza (8, 9, 12), trumpet; Gary Barrow, Amy Giammattei, Chris Barron, Ken DeRagon, trombone; Ken Olsen (3, 8, 9), trombone; Dan Cordell, bass trombone; Cliff Brucker, piano; Nicholas Lue (3, 8, 9), piano, keyboard; Tony Sano, guitar, banjo; Otto Gardner, bass; Bob Halek, drums; Colleen Pratt, vocals.

Title: Anniversary | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: EJO


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Alleviation CD/LP/Track Review Alleviation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Last Minute Panic CD/LP/Track Review Last Minute Panic
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Murphy CD/LP/Track Review Murphy
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Haberdashery CD/LP/Track Review Haberdashery
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Song of the Silver Geese CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Silver Geese
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Live at Kolarac CD/LP/Track Review Live at Kolarac
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "Is It Me...?" CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "Territoires" CD/LP/Track Review Territoires
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 26, 2017
Read "Upbeat And Sweet" CD/LP/Track Review Upbeat And Sweet
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 13, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Small World" CD/LP/Track Review Small World
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Friendly Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Friendly Ghosts
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 1, 2017

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!