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Big Band music is alive and well as evidenced on Beautiful love , the debut CD of pianist/composer/arranger Jerry Ascione. Building from the tradition of the big band era defined by Count Basie, Stan Kenton, and Woody Herman, Ascione brings a purely modern aesthetic to the big band genre in his use of carefully conceived voicings and arrangements, as well as utilizing the talents of accomplished veterans like Marvin Stamm and Steve Williams; the former given ample soloing space throughout this CD. Ascione, a young man in his forties, is however, old enough to remember and appreciate when the big band was an omni-presence in American society. Even if you were into rock n' roll in the late fifties and early sixties, you could not escape hearing big bands do their thing; this was a time when the big band supplied the music to dance halls, t.v. variety programs, and movie soundtracks. Ascione remembers those days, and draws his inspiration to create from those earliest of encounters with the ringing brass, soaring woodwinds, thumping bass, and swinging drums of the classic big band.
In a way, his whole musical life's experience can be heard in this one CD, compacted and crystalized into a 58 minute program of infectious, colorful, swinging jazz. Some of the highlights are the sophisticated sounding "Beautiful Love", the lightly latin "Samba These Nights" (an Ascione original) and a beautiful interpretation of the haunting ballad "You Don't Know What Love Is", featuring the translucent yet sanguine sound of Matt Niess's trombone. Ascione's own solo introductions of "Lady Be Good" make for a nice contrast to the ensuing wall of sound created by the ensemble, while "All The Things You Are" finds the leader stretching out and improvising within the comparative intimacy of a quartet setting. Tradition and exploration are the hallmarks of jazz , and it's all here for you to enjoy, thanks to Jerry Ascione.
Track Listing: It's Alright With Me; Beautiful Love; My Foolish; Samba These Nights; You Don't Know What Love Is; Lady Be Good; All The Things You Are; Nutville
Personnel: Steve Williams, Bill Mulligan (alto saxes); Phil Burlin, Luis Hernandez (tenor saxes); Scott Silbert (baritone sax); Matt Niess, Jamie Way, Harvey Coonin (trombones); Lee Gause (bass trombone); Marvin Stamm, Chris Walker, Kevin Watt, Larry Callahan (trumpets); Steve Abshire (guitar); Jerry Ascione (pianist/arranger); Randy Mattson (bass); Clyde Connor (drums)