120

The Cal State-Hayward Jazz Ensemble: Excursions

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
If you’re partial to colorful and challenging big band music, you’ll surely appreciate this enterprising two-disc set by the Cal State-Hayward Jazz Ensemble, ably coached and directed by Dave Eshelman. Seven of the eleven selections were written by members of the ensemble, and one is by Eshelman. They complement Duke Pearson’s “You Know I Care,” Jim McNeely’s “Dreamers and Doers” and the inspiring anthem “America” by Kathy Lee Bates. The student compositions range from straight-ahead and swinging (trombonist Mark Lemstrom’s “Acoustic Gravy”) to openly ambitious (trumpeter Gary Coartney’s three-part “Concerto for Improvisation”), with a number of exhilarating stops in between—including two spellbinding themes by trombonist Jeanne Geiger, “Excursions of the Heart” and “This.”

Disc A opens with Eshelman’s groovy “On the Line,” which introduces alto Jesse Levit and embodies a meaty statement by trombonist Brandon Au. Pianist Colin Hogan is featured on bassist Dan Parenti’s handsome tone poem, “Serene,” which precedes the first of Geiger’s impressive compositions: the richly textured (and freely swinging) “Excursions” (solos by Geiger, Levit, trumpeter Mike Olmos, Hogan on Fender Rhodes), and Lemstrom’s mouth-watering “Gravy,” on which Olmos, tenor saxophonist Ben Benavides and drummer Brian Sears are the most conspicuous diners. The soloists on Coartney’s expansive “Concerto” are Levit (“Turmoil”), flutist Chad Davis and Hogan, again on Fender Rhodes (“Inner Peace”), Olmos and guitarist Jason Countryman (“Resolution”).

Geiger goes Latin on “This,” a frisky cha-cha that ushers in Disc B on a carefree note with upbeat solos by Davis, Olmos and drummer Brian Fishler. Marcus Stephens’ leisurely “Vagabond” provides blowing room for his expressive tenor, Parenti’s fretless bass and Jesse Micek’s flashing piano, while Benavides’ sultry tenor is showcased on dazzling charts by Eshelman (“America”) and faculty member Doug Beavers (“You Know I Care”). Lemstrom’s “When You’re Around I Get the Blues,” another mind-blowing chart, accommodates ardent solos by Micek, Levit and Olmos, while McNeely’s typically strenuous “Dreamers” summons forth spirited commentary by the ensemble, pianist Hogan and trumpeter Olmos.

Bracing big–band Jazz on a grand scale, wonderfully performed by one of the country’s foremost university-level programs. Who could ask for anything more? Well, if there’s one small quibble, it is that all but a few bars of Excursions could have been housed on a single CD. But as it’s not a commercial enterprise, that’s really unimportant. It’s the music that counts, and CSU-Hayward is never less than awesome in that area.

Contact: www.isis.csuhayward.edu/ALSS/music/


Track Listing: Disc A

Personnel: Dave Eshelman, Gary Coartney (5A), Doug Beavers (3B), conductors; Jesse Levit, alto, soprano sax, clarinet; Chad Davis, alto, soprano sax, flute, alto flute; Ben Benavides, tenor, soprano sax, alto flute, clarinet; Marcus Stephens, tenor sax, piccolo flute, clarinet; Greg Conway, baritone sax, bass clarinet, B

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: CSUH | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
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 "Another Day in Fucking Paradise" CD/LP/Track Review Another Day in Fucking Paradise
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Daylight Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Rise Of Orion" CD/LP/Track Review Rise Of Orion
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "The Coyote" CD/LP/Track Review The Coyote
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 5, 2016
Read "Live at 5e" CD/LP/Track Review Live at 5e
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "New Jazz Standards, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review New Jazz Standards, Volume 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 8, 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!