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Ben Patterson Jazz Orchestra: Groove Junkies


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Ben Patterson Jazz Orchestra: Groove Junkies
Groove junkies searching for a fix need look no further. Mainlining this music—a hard-hitting big band set that satisfies as it soars—offers a serious high. With a pen and mind untrammeled by norms and expectations, and a tight crew of musical compatriots bringing stentorian sound and vision to his book, trombonist-composer Ben Patterson delivers the goods and then some.

Patterson's positively electric take on saxophonist Chris Potter's well-titled "Exclamation" offers fireworks at the front end of the program. Mixing odd meters, pushing muscular funk and fusion lines, and paving the way for tenor saxophonist Tedd Baker and pianist Chris Ziemba (on a NORD keyboard) to each burn in their own brilliant way, he creates a platform for potent discourse. It stands out as the album's only non-original yet perfectly blends into the mix with regard to style and sensibilities, making for the ideal introduction to a program that packs a marvelously mean punch.

The leader's survey of his own music starts off with expanded takes on a pair of tunes from his previous album, The Way of The Groove (Origin Records, 2022). "Stank Face"—Patterson's nod to early '90s Brecker Brothers hits—taps into the power of the pocket and a go-go flow, offering a rollicking, rhythmically-charged foundation for trumpeter Luke Brandon, guitarist Shawn Purcell and tenorist Xavier Perez's respective blow-and-tell maneuvers; and the title track from that small group stand remains a caffeinated celebration in this new treatment, with trumpeter Alec Aldred stepping up loud and proud before passing the baton to Patterson, who in turn runs it on down to Purcell for a blazing bell lap of a solo that leads to an outsized ensemble ending.

The album's second half opens with the sizzling and slick "Interesting Times." A number conceived during the early days of COVID quarantine, it's a slow-burner in seven—a pure dirty-and-flirty design—spotlighting alto saxophonist Antonio Orta and the leader. "Cheese Hat"—a feature for Wisconsin-raised bassist Paul Henry, the composer's longtime band mate in the Airmen of Note—offers some Tower of Power-esque stick-and-move horn hits while leaving plenty of space for the honoree and Baker to let loose. And "Espíritu Valiente," a finale that diverges from the funk-fusion dynamic, offers dauntless salsa sounds and some fine soloing from trombonist Kevin Cerovich and Orta. The first of two planned big band bashes expertly recorded and mixed by Bob Dawson and produced and edited by Rich Sigler, Groove Junkies hits hard in all the right ways. Here's to hoping that the follow-up arrives sooner than later.

Track Listing

Exclamation; Interesting Times; The Way of the Groove; Stank Face; Cheese Hat; Espíritu Valiente.


Ben Patterson
Antonio Orta
saxophone, alto
Mike Cemprola
saxophone, alto
Tedd Baker
saxophone, tenor
Xavier Perez
saxophone, tenor
Doug Morgan
saxophone, baritone
Kevin Burns
Luke Brandon
Alec Aldred
Kevin Cerovich
Dave Perkel
Ben Polk
trombone, bass
Chris Ziemba
Additional Instrumentation

Bill Mulligan: piccolo, flute; Fran Vielma: congas, percussion.

Album information

Title: Groove Junkies | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Origin Records



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