All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


The West Point Band's Jazz Knights: At First Light

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
The Jazz Knights, West Point's jazz ensemble, is the U.S Army's contribution to big band jazz. An outfit that recruits its members from the finest of the nation's music education schools, it has produced a vibrant, first rate outing with At First Light.

It's obvious within the first moments of the opening cut, the Dietz/Swartz standard, "Alone Together," that the Jazz Knights are a disciplined, polished outfit. Their rhythm team is tight and a bunch of horn guys buff the bright, sparkling harmonies to a high polish. They also do not hold back on the fire and energy in the solo spots. Alto saxophonist SSG Mike Reifenberg burns into his opening turn, followed by SSG Eric Ordway's fluid, beefy, free flowing power on the trombone.

The title tunes sighs to life on a reedy, orchestral, Gil Evans vibe. SSG David Loy Song blows a warm and woody tenor sax solo, followed by SSG Dan Pierce's crisp and precise trombone slot. "The Monster Brooks No Pretense," a highlight, has a sweeping, cinematic feel, infused with a sense of adventure. The piece is a commisioned work by Canadian-born composer/trombonist Mike Fahie, and is dedicated to the great trombonist/composer Bob Brookmeyer. It features lots of on-edge soloing and some powerhouse swing.

"Suo Gan," arranged by lead alto saxophonist SSG Mike Reifenberg, is the most delicately beautiful piece of the set: a gentle, simple melody with a caressing feeling of tranquility and peace that sounds as if it could have come from the pen of Maria Schneider. It includes an achingly gorgeous tenor sax solo by SSG David Loy Song.

"Dangerous Ground" has a push and pull dynamic between woodwinds and brass before SSG Derrick James, the tune's composer, rips into a red hot alto sax solo.

At First Light is a top notch set of big band jazz from the West Point Band's Jazz Knights.

Track Listing: Alone Together; At First Light; The Monster Brooks No Pretense; Suo Gan; Dangerous Ground; Secret Love; The Stakeout; Samba for Megan; The Basilisk.

Personnel: Chief Warrant Officer Matthew C. Morse; director; Staff Sgt. John Castleman: lead trumpet; Staff Sgt. Vito Speranza: trumpet II; Sgt 1st Class Rich Johnson: trumpet III; Staff Sgt. Josh Economy: trumpet IV; Staff Sgt. Mike Reifenberg: lead alto, soprao, flute, clarinet; Staff Sgt. Derrick James: alto II, clarinet; Staff Sgt. David Loy Song: tenor I, clarinet; Sgt. 1st Class Jay Malone: tenor II, clarinet; Master Sgt Gary McCourry: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Staff Sgt. Dan Pierce: lead trombone; Staff Sgt. Eric Ordway: trombone II; Master Sgt. Ron Fleischman: trombone III; Master Sgt. Teddy Arnold: bass trombone; Staff Sgt. Mark Tonelli: guitar; Sgt. 1st Class Scott Archangel: piano; Staff Sgt. Brandon Nelson: bass; Staff Sgt. Scott Drewes: drums.

Title: At First Light | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Self Produced


comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Turning Points

Turning Points

Self Produced

At First Light

At First Light

Self Produced

At First Light

At First Light

Self Produced


Related Articles

Read This City CD/LP/Track Review
This City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 24, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2018
Read West Coast Trio CD/LP/Track Review
West Coast Trio
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Sun Embassy CD/LP/Track Review
Sun Embassy
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 24, 2018
Read The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel – Beethoven Revisited Symphonies 1-9 CD/LP/Track Review
The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "Such A Sky" CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Atrium" CD/LP/Track Review Atrium
by James Nadal
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Marseille" CD/LP/Track Review Marseille
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "April" CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "UpRoot" CD/LP/Track Review UpRoot
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 2, 2017
Read "when the shade is stretched" CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018