224

The Steve Spiegl Big Band: Enigma

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Spiegl is a thoughtful — and thought–provoking — big–band composer / arranger / leader with a modus operandi all his own. There aren’t many who can draw on the works of such diverse composers as J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, Alexander Scriabin and Sir Edward Elgar to fashion Jazz compositions that are not only accessible but also swing. Spiegl does that and more on his third album, Enigma, whose title is taken from Elgar’s Enigma Variation No. 9, a sumptuous big–band version of which wraps up this colorful and always stimulating session. The opening number, “Johannes” (which burns from the outset), is based on Brahms’ second ballade in D Major, Opus 10, for solo piano, “Sinfonia No. 3 in D Major” on Bach’s solo piano book of 15 inventions and 15 sinfonias, “Prelude” on Scriabin’s Opus 16, No. 4 in Eb Minor, also for solo piano. I’ve a hunch that each of these celebrated composers would be delighted to hear the marvelous way in which his music has been adapted to suit an innovative contemporary format. But that’s no more than a hunch, as I knew none of them personally. Be that as it may, there’s no denying that Spiegl frames superb renditions of their musical essays, as he does with his five original compositions — the graceful “Memories of Cynthia,” written for a close friend who was aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 261 when it went down a year ago off the California coast; the exhilarating big–band samba, “Carnival”; “Nothing Good Happens Fast,” a Basie–like groover whose melody line borrows heavily from “Just Squeeze Me”; “Berceuse (Lullaby) for Mallory,” written for Spiegl’s granddaughter; and “Epilogue,” commissioned for the New Trier (IL) High School Jazz Ensemble. Spiegl has recruited as sidemen some of the finest studio / big–band musicians Southern California has to offer, and they master his often demanding compositions without breaking a sweat. As a bonus, there are invigorating solos by alto Kim Richmond (“Johannes,” “Cynthia,” “Mallory,” “Epilogue”), trumpeter Jeff Bunnell and trombonist Charlie Morillas ("Carnival"), tenors Pete Christlieb ("Nothing Good," "Mallory") and Kurt McGettrick ("Nothing Good," "Sinfonia No. 3," flute on "Enigma"), Morillas again ("Sinfonia No. 3"), flugel Ron King ("Cynthia," "Nothing Good," "Epilogue"), guitarist Mack Dougherty ("Prelude," "Enigma") and pianist Mike Asher ("Enigma"). I've admired and enjoyed each of Spiegl's albums but none as ardently as this one, wherein every essential ingredient seems to have fallen perfectly into place. A winner in every respect.

Contact:Spiegl Music Publications, 2816 Shady Glen Lane, Orange, CA 92867; web site, www.spieglmusic.com


Track Listing: Johannes; Memories of Cynthia; Carnival; Nothing Good Happens Fast; Sinfonia No. 3 in D Major; Berceuse for Mallory; Prelude; Epilogue; Enigma Variation No. 9 (63:59).

Personnel: Steve Spiegl, conductor, composer, arranger; Larry Hall, George Graham, Jeff Bunnell, Jack Feierman, Ron King, trumpets; Charlie Loper, Charlie Morillas, Bruce Fowler, Harold Garrett, trombones; Kim Richmond, Mike Nelson, alto, soprano sax; Kurt McGettrick, Pete Christlieb (2

| Record Label: Sorcerer | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Protean Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Protean Reality
by John Sharpe
Published: June 22, 2016
Read "Invisible Man" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Man
by Anthony Shaw
Published: June 2, 2016
Read "Sureste" CD/LP/Track Review Sureste
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 2, 2016
Read "Five" CD/LP/Track Review Five
by John Sharpe
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute to Horace Parlan" CD/LP/Track Review My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute to Horace Parlan
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 12, 2016
Read "Lingo" CD/LP/Track Review Lingo
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 10, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!