According to the Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra web site ,
The Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra was formed to nurture the musical, educational and artistic growth of individual musicians, to encourage women to become involved in jazz performance/composition as a career or avocation, and to foster community interest in and appreciation of jazz as an art form.
It's a mission statement, I suppose, a little wordy, with admirable intentions; and if Dreamcatcher, the group's recent set of concert performances, is a measurment of their progress toward the mission, I'd say they're on their way. Indeed, the ladies kick some mission keister here.
The first thing that jumped out was Ann Reynolds' piano on "The Hiding Place," a sound with a real zing to it, underscoring how important it is to have a vibrant musician in the piano chair on a big band set. The song churns forward on an easy-swinging Latin groove under the band's cool harmony, featuring laid back and straight-at-you alto sax solo by Lisa Gordanier. "Big Mama Louise," a bright and sassy Kim Richmond tune, features some Ellingtonian reed harmony, a tangy trumpet solo by Angela Smith in front of the rhythm section sounding especially buoyant before Sue Orfield blows in on a tart tenor sax turn.
Gershwin's "A Foggy Day" serves as role of standard here, a brighter, a more finger-snappingly up-tempo take than you normally here of the marvelous song, with Sheryl Clark's smooth-flowing tenor sax solo that builds in intensity and draws a well-deserved shout from the crowd as it crescendos.
A fine set of big band sounds; with the bonus of Greta Matassa's upbeat vocals on "Fly Me to the Moon" and "As Long As I'm Singing"; but the biggest bonuses are the four Daniel Berry tunes. The band's driector, Berry is new to me, but he writes an interesting and engaging song. "Nisqually Riff" slinks in on a sort of dark Henry Mancini groove, with Sue Pascal's vibes setting a soft glow behind the understated, yet still intense atmosphere of the arrangement.
The band's only four years old, but we'll here more from them and Berry.
Track Listing: 63rd St. Theme, The Hiding Place, Pura Emocion, Big Mama Louise, Fly Me to the Moon, Nisqually Riff, As Long As 'm Singing, Peanut Vendor, A Foggy Day, Two to tango, Dreamcatcher
Personnel: Reeds--Lisa Gordanier, Barbara Hubers-Drake, Sheryl Clark, Linnea Cookson, Ann Babb; Trombones--Carolyn Caster, Mariah Ralston, Cynthia McGowan, Kellyn Haley; trumpets--Densie Cline, Dennis Haldane, Marge Rosen, Shelly Devlin, Angela Smith, Sarah Nelsonamanda Marquis, Donna Plotz, Anja Parks; piano--Ann Reynolds; bass--Ellen Finn; drums--Scott Fry; conch shell--Kellyn Haley, Mariah Ralston, Daniel Berry; Guests--Sue Orfield--tenor saxophone (1,4,6,11); Greta Matassa-vocals (5 & 7); Susan Pascal--vibraphone (6 & 7); Daniel Berry--trumpet (10)
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.