All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Big Band Caravan

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

1,403

Gordon Goodwin / DePaul University / Wayne Bergeron / South Florida Jazz Orchestra

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band

Act Your Age

Immergent Records

2008

 



There are two things one can always count on when auditioning a new album by Gordon Goodwin's high-powered, proficient and fun-loving Big Phat Band: a number of well-known artists will be making guest appearances, and it is well-nigh impossible to pigeonhole the BPB thanks to the leader's singular approach to big band jazz.



The guests on Act Your Age are vocalist Patti Austin and guitarist Lee Ritenour ("September"), pianist Chick Corea ("Senor Mouse"), pianist Dave Grusin and Ritenour again ("Punta del Soul"), bassist Nathan East ("Act Your Age") and, via the miracle of electronics, the legendary pianist Art Tatum, whose acrobatic inventions are reproduced on Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," one of the CD's explicit highlights. Even though a few of Goodwin's charts lean more toward "smooth jazz" than those on the band's earlier albums, they are always well-drawn and engaging. As for the guests, Corea is especially captivating on his "Senor Mouse," as are Grusin and Ritenour on the pianist's light-hearted "Punta del Soul."



Alto saxophonist Eric Marienthal is showcased on the fast-moving opener, "Hit the Ground Running," the trumpet section (Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Dan Savant, Bob Summers) on the funky "Backrow Politics," Goodwin (piano) on Herbie Hancock's ageless "Watermelon Man" and (soprano sax) on his own laid-back "Chance Encounters." There's no quibbling about the band's other soloists, as they include tenor saxophonist Brian Scanlon and trombonist Andy Martin, two of the West Coast's most talented improvisers. Alas, neither is heard until track 10 ("East Coast Envy"). The buoyant finale, "Gumbo Street" (solos by Goodwin on tenor and Martin), is a tasty helping of contemporary New Orleans fare.



As always, Goodwin keeps the listener off-balance yet intrigued by his seemingly endless store of musical designs. Never one to stand still, he is constantly moving in new directions, and the BPB seems capable of carrying out whatever he proposes or desires. When Goodwin sets forth the proposal to Act Your Age, one can never be certain whether he is referring to himself, the band, or the listener. Perhaps to all of the above. In the end, it's the music that counts, and in that area the BPB never disappoints. A splendid album from start to finish, with a bonus DVD to sweeten the pot.



DePaul University Jazz Ensemble

That Being Said

Jazzed Media

2008

 



To underscore the renaissance in big band jazz on college and university campuses throughout the country, director Bob Lark and the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble have invited a modern Renaissance Man, Jim McNeely, to sit in on their tenth CD in the last decade, That Being Said. McNeely, a native Chicagoan who has worked with the DePaul program since 1992, has done it all. Besides composing, arranging and playing superb contemporary piano, he boasts an enviable reputation as an educator and mentor, and has led and/or played in groups large and small here at home and abroad. He also serves as chief composer and arranger for New York's celebrated Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. McNeely is the pianist on three of his innovative compositions and his imposing arrangement of Thelonious Monk's exemplary "'Round Midnight."



Elsewhere, the ensemble takes command with no reduction in merit or interest. To the contrary, Lark's charges are well-honed and precise on Mike Pinto's "The Marriott Connection," Dan Nicholson's "That Being Said," guitarist Scott Hesse's "The Beautiful One," trumpeter Dan Jones's "Platitude" and Frank Mantooth's suave arrangement of Harry Edison's "Centerpiece" (with vocal to match by Milton Suggs). Hesse is featured on "That Being Said," solos with trumpeter Jones on "The Beautiful One" and with McNeely and tenor Anthony Bruno (who sure sounds like he's playing alto) on McNeely's "Don't Even Ask." McNeely wrote the placid "Der Seiltanzer" and elaborate "Ad Parnassum," sharing solo space with vibraphonist Justin Thomas on the former and tenor Drew Pierson on the latter, while Jones flies solo on "Platitude."



Much as one would like to dissect or devalue this performance by the DePaul ensemble, there is no valid basis on which to do so. Lark, as always, has everyone remarkably well-prepared, the ensemble and soloists are above reproach, and McNeely sounds as though he'd been performing with them for years instead of sitting in as a guest artist. That's what real pros invariably bring to the table. Another start-to-finish winner for Lark and the DePaul ensemble.



Wayne Bergeron with the After Hours Brass

Music and Mistletoe

Wag Records

2008

 

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Albert–Hobbs Big Band / Jeff Hamilton–DePaul University Jazz Ensemble / Steve Taylor Big Band Big Band Caravan
Albert–Hobbs Big Band / Jeff Hamilton–DePaul...
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 11, 2012
Read R3: Special Big Band / Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra / Empire Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan
R3: Special Big Band / Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra / Empire...
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2012
Read Bob Mintzer Big Band / Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band / Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra Big Band Caravan
Bob Mintzer Big Band / Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band /...
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 7, 2012
Read Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band / Michael Treni Big Band / Millennium Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan
Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band / Michael Treni...
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 9, 2012
Read Budman-Levy Orchestra / Jens Wendelboe Big Band / DiMartino-Osland Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan
Budman-Levy Orchestra / Jens Wendelboe Big Band /...
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 7, 2012
Read James Morrison / Tall & Small / Millennium Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan
James Morrison / Tall & Small / Millennium Jazz...
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 12, 2012
Read "Anat Fort Quartet at Cornelia Street Café" Live Reviews Anat Fort Quartet at Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "Crispell-Fonda-Sorgen Trio Live at The Falcon" Live Reviews Crispell-Fonda-Sorgen Trio Live at The Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 29, 2017
Read "Dan Shout: In With a Shout" Interviews Dan Shout: In With a Shout
by Seton Hawkins
Published: August 31, 2018
Read "Monika Herzig: A Portrait of a Hero" Interviews Monika Herzig: A Portrait of a Hero
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 3, 2018
Read "Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached" Interviews Linley Hamilton: Strings Attached
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 17, 2018
Read "Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Song Book" Getting Into Jazz Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Song Book
by Mark Barnett
Published: December 15, 2017