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Originally televised back in the black-and-white 1960s, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone broadcast an episodenow classicin which miniature alien spacemen land and terrorize a woman who is frightfully alone in her farmhouse. The cover art depicting happy little "musician-nauts" walking in space notwithstanding, Enter the Atmosph-Mire does no terrorizing. It does, however, shoot for, hit, and display the stars.
Dallas-based trumpeter/composer/arranger Tyler Mire (pronounced "Meer") has enlisted a cadre of Big D's best here and hands them a musical mission mapped with superbly arranged material. And, do they execute; while one well-known big band might be "phat" with the "Heavies of Hollywood," this superb land-and-take-no-prisoners crew brings Texas-sized energy, fire and swag to the shootout.
In keeping with Big Band Commandment Number One, this group swings and does so throughout. With lead trumpeters in command, the ensemble plays air-tight without being sterile. Whether the groove is a tasty samba ("Mile High Samba"), straight-ahead blue ("Mire-ly a Minor Blues"with a "Work Song" hat-tip), beautifully tone-poetic ("Eternal Healing") or a re-energized classic ("Girl from Ipanema"), the Mire Men (and woman) demonstrate that big band jazz on the Third Stone From The Sun is very much alive.
The band's standout soloists include saxophonists Aaron Hedenstrom and Alex Fraile. A highlight is a classic Texas-tenor battle with Drew Zarumba and Chris Reardon, blowing faster than a potter's wheel over "Sweet Georgia Brown" changes ("Chris is How We Drew It"). Mire is most generous with his solo assignments and all deliver.
Mire is obviously well-schooled in the stylings of Thad Jones, Sammy Nestico and even the legendary group, Chase99 (saluted via screaming cascades on the title cut). Shrewdly, his charts, complete with rhythmic and harmonic diversities, push the envelope and keep the ears at attention.
The band's rhythm section engineers this drive with same. Pianist Austin Byrd, guitarist Alex Cannon, bassist Daniel Parr, and drummer Justin Heaverin (who's tasty/cute on the Neal Hefti-like "Brush It Off") all are superb.
The outcome of Serling's "Space Invaders" episode can be learned when the next Twilight Zone Marathon airs, but the final assessment of this space trip is: Enter the Atmosph-Mire is definitely a fun flight to the "Oh- Zone."
Track Listing: Mile High Samba; Enter the Atmosph-Mire; Mire-ly a Minor Blues; Brush It Off; Chris Is
How We Do It; The Days of Wine and Roses; The Girl from Ipanema (Bones from
Ipanema); Eternal Healing; C’Mire.
Personnel: Aaron Hedenstrom: soprano and alto saxophone, clarinet; Alex Fraile: soprano and alto
saxophone; Chris Reardon: tenor saxophone; Drew Zaremba: tenor saxophone, flute,
clarinet; Kelsey Pickford: baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon; Tyler
Mire: trumpet (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9); Andrew Bezik: trumpet; Thomas Eby: trumpet (2, 3,
5, 7-9); Thomas Davis: trumpet; Kevin Swaim: trumpet ; Micah Bell: (1, 4, 6, 8); Carl Lundgren: trombone; Seth
Weaver: trombone; Scott Sidway: trombone; Alex Blue V: bass trombone; Eric Andress:
bass trombone (2, 3, 5, 7, 9); Alex Cannon: guitar; Austin Byrd: piano, electric piano;
Daniel Parr: upright and electric bass; Justin Heaverin: drums.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!