179

Gordon Lee and the GLeeful Big Band: Flying Dream

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
We’re not told much about Gordon Lee except that he’s a Portland, Oregon-based music educator who has performed and recorded with a number of small groups and has been writing big-band charts for eight years. His influences, he writes in the brief liner notes, range from Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Maria Schneider to Gustav Mahler and Igor Stravinsky, and the imprint of one or more of them is visible from time to time in each of his cutting-edge compositions, suitably modified to reinforce Lee’s purpose.

Lee wrote all but one of the ten selections on Flying Dream (the other is Rodgers and Hart’s “Where or When,” which he arranged), and his charts are by no means easy to play. He has cleared that hurdle by mustering a seventeen-piece ensemble comprised of some of the most accomplished musicians in his neighborhood, players who at least make it sound easy. Lee writes with a vision in mind, assigning a “theme” to each of his compositions. Thus, “Vicious Cycle” represents “the need for perseverance to navigate the vicious cycle of existence,” “Tobacco Monkey” lampoons “the blues and the smoky bars where the monkey [smoking habit] is hanging out, chattering away,” and so on. Lee’s treatment of “Where or When” is a highlight, in spite of his avowal that it’s a “free association” arrangement about which some listeners might say, “It doesn’t go like that!” Perhaps not, but it goes quite well, as do the strapping solos by tenor Tim Jensen and trumpeter Farnell Newton.

“Alternative Blues” is another eye-opener, as it sounds unlike most other blues that one encounters. Altoist Gary Harris, trombonist Stan Bock and drummer Carlton Jackson get the point and respond with some tasteful blowing. There are other impressive solos as well, most notably by tenor saxophonist Renato Caranto (“Sentimental Fool,” “Wait for Her,” “Winter Comes,” “Now What?”), Lee at the piano with Harris (“Vicious Cycle”) or Jensen (“Bitter Wind”), baritonist Robert Crowell (“Now What?”), Newton and altoist Tom Bergeron (“Flying Dream”).

An admirable debut by a talented composer/arranger/pianist whose big-band charts are fresh and invigorating.


Track Listing: Vicious Cycle, Flying Dream, Sentimental Fool, Now What?, Tobacco Monkey, Winter Comes, Bitter Wind, Wait for Her, Where or When, Alternative Blues

Personnel: Gordon Lee--composer, conductor, piano; Carlton jackson--drums; Andre St. James--contrabass; Charley Gray--electric bass; Rich Cooper, Randy Mueller Dave Mills, Farnell Newton--trumpets; Stan Bock, Keller Coker, Lars Campbell--trombones; Michael Powers--bass trombone; Gary Harris, Tom Bergeron--alto sax and flute; Renato Caranto--tenor and soprano saxes; Tim Jensen--tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Robert Crowell--baritone sax

Title: Flying Dream | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: OA2 Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read The Chase CD/LP/Track Review The Chase
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Paint CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 16, 2017
Read A Pouting Grimace CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017
Read Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Rumbler" CD/LP/Track Review Rumbler
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "The Traveller's Tale" CD/LP/Track Review The Traveller's Tale
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 17, 2017
Read "In Layers" CD/LP/Track Review In Layers
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Henrik Jensen's Followed by Thirteen: Blackwater" CD/LP/Track Review Henrik Jensen's Followed by Thirteen: Blackwater
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Oh, Clara!" CD/LP/Track Review Oh, Clara!
by Jim Olin
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "Songs Of Life" CD/LP/Track Review Songs Of Life
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 8, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.