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The bodhisattva Wonderful Sound appears in the classic Buddhist scripture The Lotus Sutra, where he extends the invisible bridge of music so humans can tap into their hope, wisdom and strength. Inspired by Wonderful Sound's mission, alto saxophonist Bobby Zankel formed the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, a bold and expressive fourteen-piece band which includes three trumpets, two trombones and four saxophones. The Philadelphia-based band has played a steady gig for an unheard-of five years, allowing the musicians to cohere into a powerful, exciting ensemble.
Ceremonies of Forgiveness is the group's first CD, and its seven songs are uniformly strong. The first cut, "Choose Hope (for Nelson Mandela)," is fourteen minutes of generous, ebullient music. Zankel delivers a mean, joyful and soaring solo, Larry Toft offers a funky trombone lead spurred on by the in-sync trumpets, and bassist Dylan Taylor's facile lines hold their own amongst all the brass and woodwinds. Another standout is "Infinite Potential of a Single Moment (Parts 1 and 2)," an inspirational song with an unusual, inventive arrangement. The song includes a sparkling solo by pianist Tom Lawton and gorgeous flute playing by the always remarkable Elliot Levin, whose solo is as fluid and graceful as bird song.
All the compositions are by Zankel, an expert in layering sounds in a way that supports each song's vision. If you want to know what's really going on in Philadelphia, start with this group.
Track Listing: Choose Hope; Ndura - The Forest is our Father and Mother: Part 1; Ndura - The Forest is our Father and Mother: Part 2; Infinite Potential of a Single Moment: Part 1; Infinite Potential of a Single Moment: Part 2; Ceremonies of Forgiveness: Part 1; Ceremonies of Forgiveness: Part 2.
Personnel: Tom Lawton: piano; Dylan Taylor: bass; Craig McIver: drums; Rick Iannacone: guitar; John
Swana, Patrick Hughes, Bart Miltenberger: trumpets; Larry Toft, Dave Champion: trombones;
Daniel Peterson: alto saxophone; Elliot Levin: tenor saxophone and flute; Brian Rodgers: enor
saxophone; Dan Scofield: baritone saxophone; Bobby Zankel: alto saxophone.