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Nicholas Urie Large Ensemble: Excerpts From an Online Dating Service

C. Michael Bailey By

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Youthfully precocious composer/conductor Nicholas Urie was born in Los Angeles in 1985. He began winning jazz composition awards when he was 17 years old and studied composition with Bob Brookmeyer, then graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music with a master's degree.

This résumé establishes Urie as a wunderkind and this designation manifests on his big band event Excerpts From an Online Dating Service(Red Piano, 2009). Excerpts is a suite composed around actual online dating site postings. Utterly adult in content, the "book" of Excerpts From an Online Dating Service is a provocative snapshot of electronic divining for love.

Urie uses the prewar Berlin Cabaret as the stylistic vehicle for carrying the ribald and carnal pheromonic texts. "Yes I have a picture you might like/In it I'm banging my ex-wife" informs from "About Me," while "You're like that first hit of crack/that first spike of smack" metaphorically signals a gang lament in "Wayne."

Urie takes these most unpoetic poems and fashions them for the bold plasticity of Christine Correa's voice. His 16-piece "Large Ensemble" (which includes Michael Christianson's tuba) creates a ready Kurt Weill groove. Ute Lemper should have sounded so good. The presence of clarinetist Chris Speed is fully employed on the final two pieces, providing a sharp counterpoint to the bright brass Urie favors.

Excerpts From an Online Dating Service is very well conceived. Jazz (or any genre, for that matter) has never seen such adaptation. Writing music to surround such difficult text is a feather in Urie's cap. Making it so immediately accessible and entertaining is a mark of the young composer's genius.

Big band music has never veered so far from its swing roots as it does on this recording. Urie does not simply blow off the dust of the large jazz ensemble, he sandblasts it off with Uranium.


Track Listing: Overture; About Me; Holidaze; Bad Girl; Interlude 1; Wayne; Interlude 2; Cougar Seeks Prey; Afternoon.

Personnel: Nicholas Urie: composer, conductor; Christine Correa: vocals; Jeremy Udden: soprano saxophone; Aaron Kruziki: soprano saxophone, flute; Bill McHenry: tenor saxophone; Kenny Pexton: Tenor Saxophone, clarinet; Brian Landrus: bass clarinet, baritone saxophone; Bijon Watson: trumpet; Jeff Clausen: trumpet; Dave Smith: Trumpet; John Carlson: trumpet; Lolly Bienenfield: trombone; Randy Pingrey: trombone; Matt Plummer: bass trombone; Michael Christianson: tuba; Frank Carlberg: piano; Joe Martin: bass; Michael Calabrese: drums.

Title: Excerpts From an Online Dating Service | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Red Piano Records

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CD/LP/Track Review
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