Dearborn Station, the tenth album recorded by the superb DePaul University Jazz Ensemble at Joe Segal's legendary Jazz Showcase (in Chicago's historic Dearborn Station, hence the title), is another bright and rhythmic tour de force for director / trumpeter Bob Lark's intrepid undergrads and their special guest, trumpeter Randy Brecker, whose perceptive solos enhance the first half-dozen of the album's nine tracks. On the last of the six, Lark and Brecker join forces to fan the flames on Tom Matta's incendiary arrangement of the Sammy Cahn / Jule Styne standard "It's You or No One."
Brecker wrote (and solos on) the choppy opener, "Squids," and the even-tempered ballad "You're in My Heart" (the first arranged by tenor saxophonist Andrew Janak, who also solos, the second by trumpeter Rich Shemaria). Brecker shines as well on Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't" (with alto Brent Griffin and trombonist Brian Scarborough), the standard "On Green Dolphin Street" (cleverly arranged by tenor Corbin Andrick who adds a resourceful solo) and Wayne Shorter's seductive "Infant Eyes." The ensemble takes it from there, darting easily through every test on Lark's "Cathy's Song," Richie Palys' "Tina's Glass Nickel" and Frank Foster's "Blues in Hoss' Flat." Lark (on flugelhorn) and guitarist Lee Rothenberg add charisma to the enchanting "Cathy's Song," as do pianist Scott Williams, trombonist Brett Balika, trumpeter Marques Carroll and drummer Rob Dicke on the buoyant "Glass Nickel," Williams, trumpeter Gibron Lockhart, baritone Michael Brawley and trombonist Chris Shuttleworth on the playful "Hoss' Flat." Brecker shares blowing space with alto J.T. Teichert on "You're In My Heart" and trumpeter Carroll on "Infant Eyes."
As on past recordings from the Jazz Showcase, the DePaul ensemble is performing without a net, before a live audience with no edits or do-overs. And as always, the ensemble produces an essentially unblemished performance, marked by superior harmony among the sections, steadfast swinging by all hands and scrupulous attention to detail. Brass and reeds are sharp and synchronous, the rhythm section (Williams, Rothenberg, Dicke and bassist Jason Kidder) taut and trustworthy. Add Brecker's lithe, expressive trumpet to the mix and (aside from the excessive reverb on "Squibs") there's simply nothing to censure.
Squids; Well, You Needn’t; On Green Dolphin Street; You’re in My Heart; Infant Eyes; It’s You or No One; Cathy’s Song; Tina’s Glass Nickel; Blues in Hoss’ Flat.
Bob Lark: director, trumpet solo (6); Marques Carroll: trumpet, flugelhorn; Kyle Granville: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bobby Lark: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gibron Lockhart: trumpet, flugelhorn; Brent Griffin: alto, soprano sax, flute; J. T. Teichert: alto sax, flute; Corbin Andrick: tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Andrew Janak: tenor sax, clarinet; Michael Brawley: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Brian Scarborough: trombone; Chris Shuttleworth: trombone; Brett Balika: trombone; Bryan Tipps: bass trombone; Scott Williams: piano, keyboard; Lee Rothenberg: guitar; Jackson Kidder: bass; Rob Dicke: drums. Special guest artist – Randy Brecker: trumpet (1-6).
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