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Full Spectrum Jazz: First Time Out

Jack Bowers By

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So what do those hard–working computer nerds in California’s famed Silicon Valley do for R&R? Some whose talent and interest extend beyond mother boards, chips and software have gathered together with professional musicians in the San Francisco Bay area to establish Full Spectrum Jazz, a driving big band whose broad repertoire encompasses blues, ballads, salsa and straight–ahead swing that spans more than 60 years in the evolution of the music. The three–year–old ensemble touches many of those bases on First Time Out, interposing such familiar melodies as “Strike Up the Band,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” “All of Me,” “Georgia” and “It Might as Well Be Spring” among a number of impressive original compositions — “Clapham Common,” “Latin Disease,” Hank Levy’s “Pegasus,” Bobby Shew’s “Blue” and Bill Evans’ “Peri’s Scope.” Even though not everyone in the band plays for a living, one gains the clear impression that they could if they weren’t otherwise employed. In other words, there isn’t the least trace of amateurism within these precincts. The ensemble is resolutely in step, with every note struck cleanly and precisely, while soloists are consistently bright and articulate. Here again, one would be hard–pressed to single out the novices from the pros, as everyone is impressive. Those accorded feature showcases include tenors Paternoster (“Strike Up the Band”) and Dickow (“Autumn in New York”), trumpeters Hecker (Howard Cespedes’ delightful bossa, “Clapham Common”) and Berry (flugel on “Blue”), pianist Bankovitch (“All of Me”) and alto Salcido (“Georgia”). Trumpeter Levinson and trombonist Humphrey also make brief but persuasive appearances. The rhythm section, spearheaded by drummer Almeida and including Bankovitch, bassist Randolph and guitarists Leonardi or Nieckarz, is unfailingly alert and responsive. Full Spectrum seems a worthy successor to another Bay area powerhouse of several years ago, Full Faith & Credit. With so much going for it, the news that it has become San Francisco’s hottest new big band is hardly surprising but no less welcome. If you happen to live near enough to see and hear Full Spectrum in concert, I envy you the privilege. If you don't, at least grab a copy of this disc and hear what all the fuss is about.

Track listing: Strike Up the Band; Moonlight in Vermont; Clapham Common; All of Me; Pegasus; Blue; Peri’s Scope; It Might as Well Be Spring; Georgia; Latin Disease (48:19).


Personnel:

Fred Berry, musical director; Ruben Salcido, alto sax, flute; Dan Dierkes, alto, soprano saxes, flute; Tod Dickow, Neil Cormia, tenor sax, flute; Paul Paternoster, tenor sax; Fred Urrutia, baritone sax; Roger Levinson, Dan Hallock, Scott Hecker, Andy Scott, trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Humphrey, Bill Rhea, Craig Dunwoody, Gary Sloane, trombone; Steve Fitzsimons, bass trombone; Walter Bankovitch, piano; Igor Leonardi, Danny Nieckarz, guitar; Fred Randolph, acoustic, electric bass; Carlos Almeida, drums, percussion; Jimmy Biala, Latin percussion.

Contact: FSJ Associates, 806 Keystone Way, Livermore, CA 94550 (www.urrutia.com; e

Title: First Time Out | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Full Spectrum

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