As a licensed pilot I have fond memories of the first time I took the controls of an airplane on my solo flight and the proud sense of accomplishment one feels when you've landed alive and relieved. That enormous sense of accomplishment is what I'm sure trombonist Pete McGuinness must have felt when he launched his own big band on its First Flight with an impressive debut recording after twenty years as a sideman, composer and arranger with some of the finest big bands in the business.
For this debut, McGuinness contributes six original tunes and resurrects three old standards from the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Wayne Shorter and Ivan Lins. The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra is a standard seventeen-piece big band comprised of local New York-based musicians and friends that the leader has made over a twenty year career in New York. Also included on this release is guest guitarist Paul Meyers, showcased on Lins' "Comecar De Novo, a bossa-shaded light melody featuring pianist Mike Holober in what is the best score on the album.
For his first effort, McGuinness decides to take off with the title track, an original composition that soars mightily with some woodwind afterburners featuring trumpeter Chris Rogers on a pitch solo, Tom Christensen with a yaw roll on the tenor and the pilot in command (McGuinness) throttling his trombone. The group delivers one of the best renditions of Charlie Chaplin's classic "Smile, you'll ever hear. It also features the leader on vocals and Dave Pietro on a terrific alto passage.
Shorter's "Infant Eyes has the trombonist taking the lead and center stage on a soft and delicious ballad. Perhaps one of the finest big band arrangements here may well be the straight-ahead "Spring Song, splendidly diced with a tenor solo from Jason Rigby and an appreciable contribution from Bill Mobley on flugelhorn. Other notable tunes to look out for are McGuinness' "The Trucksters, and the aptly named finale, "A Fond Farewell.
No question about it, this is one heavenly First Flight for Pete McGuinness and his Jazz Orchestra. Excellent charts and one heck of a band clear this flight from a holding pattern and puts it on a smooth approach for a graceful landing.
Track Listing: First Flight; Smile; Infant Eyes; Comecar de Novo; Lonely Dance; Chase Scene; Spring Song; The Tricksters; A Fond Farewell.
Personnel: Pete McGuinness: trombone, vocals (2, 9); Tony Kadleck: trumpet, flugelhorn; Chris Rogers: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Pietro: alto sax, flute; Charles Pillow: alto sax, flute; Tom Christensen: tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Jason Rigby: tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Dave Riekenberg: baritone sax; Bruce Eidem: trombone; Steve Armour: trombone; Jeff Nelson: bass trombone; Mike Holober: piano; Andy Eulau: bass; Scott Neumann: drums; Paul Meyers: guitar (4).
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.