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Guitarist/composer/arranger Chris Jentsch has produced a highly original forty-five minute work in the titular Brooklyn Suite, as well as two other new compositions. Jentsch has lived in the New York borough of Brooklyn since 1999 and pays homage to the sights and sounds of his adopted home. Jentsch did the same for another city on Miami Suite (Blue Schist, 1999).
Brooklyn Suite is an ambitious work, impressive in its creativity. The influence of the orchestral writing of both Gil Evans and Maria Schneiderespecially her Sky Blue (ArtistShare, 2007)can be felt, and there are hints of Stan Kenton to be found as well.
While there are a number of musicians in this sixteen-piece orchestra who are bandleaders, composers and recording artists in their own rights, including trombonist Alan Ferber and reedmen Dan Willis and Andy Laster, Brooklyn Suite is not about soloists. Instead, it's similar to Schneider's project, although Sky Blue did have some beautiful solos, placed in perspective by Schneider's riveting arrangements.
Jentsch's orchestration is the star of this album, beginning gently and evolving into a mutating form of jazz expressionism. By the time it's reached the concluding "Our Daily Dread," an insistent rock beat is upfront, with Jentsch's reverb-drenched guitar making this certain to appeal to fans of jazz rock. When the horns are featured, including a growling trombone, the rock beat falls politely into the backdrop, but the composition's conclusion is a battle between Jentsch in full cry set against the jazz riffs of the orchestra.
With Brooklyn Suite, Jentsch has created a recording where there's something for everyone.
Track Listing: Opening Shards; Inside (Interlude); Outside Line; Going to Hail; Follow that Cab; Imagining the Mirror; Closing Shards; See You in Bali; Our Daily Dread.
Personnel: Chris Jentsch: guitar; John Mettam: drums; Jim Whitney: double bass;
JC Standford: conductor; John Carlson: trumpet; Laurie Frink: trumpet; Jon Owens: trumpet; Russ Johnson trumpet; Brian Drye: trombone; Alan Ferber: trombone; Jacob Garchik: trombone; Kurtis Pivert: trombone; Ben Kono: reeds; Andy Laster: reeds; John O'Gallagher: reeds; Mike McGinnis; Dan Willis: reeds.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.