What once was lost, now is found. Scott Wilson, head of the jazz studies program at the University of Florida, recently discovered this recording of a concert from 1983 that features Bobby Shew as the guest soloist with the University of Florida Jazz Band, then under the direction of Gary Langford. And what a find it is. Shew's creative soloing and stratospheric statements merge seamlessly with this tight band, an outfit that can pack a mean wallop when the music calls for it.
With Shew soaring and the band kicking behind him, the sounds, not surprisingly, often fall into a Maynard Ferguson-esque zone. This is high-flying big band music with oomph and verve. There's a gentle-turned-funky gem with Stevie Wonder licks built in ("Stevie's Wonders"), a bossa-laced ballad that builds into something more potent ("Evergreen"), charged swingers (Wayne Shorter's "Yes Or No"), a waltzing showcase for Shew ("Cipriana"), a Chick Corea classic ("500 Miles High"), and more. Four tracks give solo space to members of the band like alto saxophonist Kenny Anderson, who gets two opportunities to shine, and guitarist Jean Pierre Maguire, who struts his stuff on the grooving album closer ("John Brown's Other Body"). The rest of the material focuses on the honorable guest. Shew's masterful muted solo work is on display ("No Greater Love"), his flugelhorn seduces ("Blue"), and he packs enough firepower in his trumpet to take out anything that gets in his way.
While college-band-plus-guest outings are often given praise before being cut down by a qualifying statementremarks like, "they're good, for a student band"this release shouldn't be praised-cum-slighted in such fashion. This is good music by any standard, and it's being released for a good cause: the album is available in exchange for donations which will help to fund The Bobby Shew Lead Trumpet Scholarship at the University of Florida.
The Red Snapper; Stevie's Wonders; Evergreen; Yes Or No; Cipriana; No Greater Love;
Blue; Decoupage; 500 Miles High; John Brown's Other Body.
Bobby Shew: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gary Langford: ensemble director; Ken Anderson:
alto saxophone; Rollie Walker: alto saxophone; Sam Fagaly: tenor saxophone; Todd
Nystrom: tenor saxophone; Mark Schenkel: baritone saxophone; Terry Moo: trumpet;
Tom Cunningham: trumpet; Bill Karow: trumpet; Michael Ragan: trumpet; Doug Harris:
trumpet; Jerry Edwards: trombone; Russell Spivey: trombone; Craig Booth: trombone;
John Voss: trombone; Adren Hance: trombone; Ed Krout: piano; Rob Boulware: bass;
Stephen Bucholtz: drums; Jean Pierre Maguire: guitar.
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