185

Jim McNeely Tentet: Group Therapy

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Jim McNeely Tentet: Group Therapy Pianist Jim McNeely has proven his excellence at large-group writing many times, with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra (later to become the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra), the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra and more. He proves it again with this exceptional CD, his first for the young OmniTone label.

Leading a ten-piece ensemble through eight fabulous pieces (four are originals), McNeely creates a sound that is futuristic yet rich with bop reference points. His work tends to grab listeners by the throat more than, say, Maria Schneider's, although he has in common with Schneider a mastery of dynamics and tonal variation. He builds his arrangements around his soloists, but in two different ways. On Bud Powell's "The Fruit," for instance, the solo baton changes hands eleven times in the course of eight minutes, with each player making a brief commentary in between high-energy ensemble statements. The title track proceeds similarly, except the soloists are featured mostly in pairs. Other tracks, such as "Cranky Takes a Holiday" and McNeely's wonderfully dark rendering of "Silent Night," feature extended solos from only three or four players.

All the soloists are meticulously identified on the CD sleeve, although there's one minor mistake: on John Coltrane's "Village Blues," Billy Drewes is said to follow Tom Varner, when he actually precedes Varner.

McNeely's arrangements amaze not only on the level of craft, but on the level of imagination. Consider the five-bar vamp that ends "Silent Night"; the 7/4 subsection in the middle of "Group Therapy"; the descending figures that erupt like fireworks during the concluding Caribbean groove of "Cranky Takes a Holiday"; or the strange fanfare that fleetingly appears during John Hollenbeck's drum solo on "Lost." It's details like these, sometimes hushed or unassuming, other times thunderous, that make Group Therapy a worthy candidate for jazz album of the year, even at this early date.


Track Listing: The Fruit;Cranky Takes a Holiday; Silent Night; Lost; Group Therapy; Village Blues; Body and Soul; A Perfect Six.

Personnel: Tony Kadleck: trumpet; Greg Gisbert; trumpet; Scott Wendholt: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tom Varner: French horn; Ed Neumeister: trombone; Dick Oatts: soprano and alto saxophones, flute; Billy Drewes: soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, flute, clarinet; Scott Robinson: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Cameron Brown: bass; John Hollenbeck: drums; Jim McNeely: piano.

Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: OmniTone | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Forgive and Forget" CD/LP/Track Review Forgive and Forget
by Edward Blanco
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Columbia Years 1968-1969" CD/LP/Track Review Columbia Years 1968-1969
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 4, 2016
Read "Right Where I Need to Be" CD/LP/Track Review Right Where I Need to Be
by Jim Olin
Published: June 6, 2016
Read "Taking Flight" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Flight
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 16, 2016
Read "Tierra" CD/LP/Track Review Tierra
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 15, 2016
Read "ReNew" CD/LP/Track Review ReNew
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!