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Andy Farber and His Orchestra: Early Blue Evening

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Andy Farber and His Orchestra: Early Blue Evening
Saxophonist Andy Farber's New York-based orchestra came together and cut its teeth as the onstage band for three hundred performances of After Midnight, a Broadway revue that paid tribute to Jazz Age nightclub luminaries from Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford and Count Basie to Harold Arlen, Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh. As one might presume from the orchestra's provenance, echoes of Ellington and Basie can readily be discerned on its first recording since After Midnight closed in 2014—but Farber, who wrote every number save the last two and arranged them all, is sharp and skillful enough never to imitate. Instead, he writes contemporary themes tautly anchored in an old-school framework that should gratify fans of big-band eras past and present.

The spirit of Ellington arises early on the bluesy opener, "Don't Tell Me What to Do," and is never more than a downbeat away thereafter. Meanwhile, guitarist James Chirillo helps keep the Basie/Freddie Green vibe flowing, especially on the easygoing "Cork Grease and Valve Oil" and groovy "Symphony for Dr. 'T.'" Flugel player Brian Pareschi is showcased on that ode to the deviant Dutch detective, alto saxophonist Godwin Louis on the lustrous "Early Blue Evening," Farber (baritone) on the heartfelt "Portrait of Joe Temperley." Farber solos on alto with pianist Adam Birnbaum on Neal Hefti's well-known "Theme from The Odd Couple," on tenor with trumpeter James Zollar and vocalist Catherine Russell on the finale, Jack King/Dorothy Parker's sensuous ballad, "How Am I to Know."

Farber's other enticing themes include the buoyant "Feet and Frames" (solos by Birnbaum, alto Mark Gross, trombonist Dion Tucker, trumpeter Bruce Harris); "The Holidaymakers" (Zollar, Birnbaum, trumpeter Alphonso Horne, trombonists Art Baron and Wayne Goodman); "Aircheck" (Birnbaum—playing Basie-style piano, tenor Lance Bryant, trumpeter Bruce Harris); and "Fanfare on Fairfax" (Chirillo, Louis, baritone Carl Maraghi, drummer Alvester Garnett). Farber leads an all-star ensemble and gives almost every star a chance to shine. The only band members who don't solo at least once are trumpeter Shawn Edmonds (who sits in for Horne on half a dozen numbers) and the rock-solid bassist Jennifer Vincent who shines in her own effective way.

The brightest star is Farber himself who manages to walk a fine line between today and yesterday without once losing his balance or striking a false note. He keeps the tempos light and the moods bright and checks all the boxes from blues to ballad, Latin to swing with ease and assurance while interweaving enough color and variety to please almost any ear. While Early Blue Evening doesn't attempt to re-create the big band era, it does serve to remind us how glorious those precious years were.

Track Listing

Don’t Tell Me What to Do; Feet and Frames; The Holidaymakers; Aircheck; Early Blue Evening; Fanfare on Fairfax; Cork Grease and Valve Oil; Portrait of Joe Temperley; Symphony for Doctor “T”; Theme from The Odd Couple; How Am I to Know?

Personnel

Andy Farber
saxophone
Bruce Harris
trumpet
James Zollar
trumpet
Mark Gross
saxophone, alto
Godwin Louis
saxophone
Dan Block
saxophone
Lance Bryant
saxophone, tenor
Carl Maraghi
saxophone, baritone
Wayne Goodman
trombone
Art Baron
trombone
Dion Tucker
trombone
Jennifer Vincent
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: Early Blue Evening | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: ArtistShare


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