Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra: Herb's Book

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
When Herb Harrison, director emeritus of Jazz Studies at Cal State University-Sacramento, retired a number of years ago and moved to his wife, Mary's, hometown of Columbus, Ohio, he never envisioned a "second career" writing for and conducting a ready-made big band. That was before he met Vaughn Wiester, whose Famous Jazz Orchestra holds forth each Monday evening at the Columbus Music Hall, and who wasn't about to let talent like Harrison's go to seed.

To make a long story short, Harrison, now 82 years young, was soon contributing charts for the orchestra, many of which were recorded over a period of several years by engineer Don Loose. Herb's Book, the FJO's third album since it was formed eight years ago, is devoted entirely to Harrison's arrangements, as sight-read during those Monday evening sessions (that's right, the orchestra doesn't rehearse, usually seeing the music for the first time when the lights go down and the performance begins).

To pull that off, a leader must have sidemen who know what they're about, and Wiester has some of the Columbus area's best, several of whom have spent time on the road with various bands, as Wiester once did with Woody Herman and others. Drummer John Von Ohlen, a mainstay with Cincinnati's celebrated Blue Wisp Big Band, sits in on the last number, "Bus to Nowhere" (based on Stan Kenton's "Artistry in Rhythm"), one of Harrison's three original compositions (the others are "Third Set Sarah" and "The Cat's Meow"). There's one more, Al Young's "Chip Off the Old Block," to complement ten jazz standards and evergreens from the Great American Songbook.

Loose has sought to preserve the informal atmosphere of a live concert, recording the ensemble without amplification through a single pair of microphones located front row center in the audience, which occupies half of the room, while using minimal signal processing and no dynamic compression. The result is quite similar to what one would hear on a given Monday evening at the Columbus Music Hall.

The orchestra sight-reads Herb's Book admirably, while the various soloists do their utmost to keep things bright and interesting. Trombonist Linda Landis is featured on "When You Wish Upon a Star," tenor Brian Olsheski on "Give Me the Simple Life," trombonist Matt Ellis on "All of Me," baritone Bob LeBeau on "For You," Von Ohlen and horn player Sarah Brown on "Bus to Nowhere." A splendid introduction to Herb's Book ; we hope there are many more chapters yet to come.

Track Listing: Flying Home; Memories of You; Chip Off the Old Block; When You Wish Upon a Star; Give Me the Simple Life; The Touch of Your Lips; All of Me; Third Set Sarah; It's a Blue World; For You; The Cat's Meow; Like Someone in Love; Honeysuckle Rose; Bus to Nowhere (55:35).

Personnel: (Collective) -- Vaughn Wiester, music director; Herb Harrison, conductor, arranger; John Vermeulen, Tom Ryan, Bryan Olsheski, Bob LeBeau, Michael Cox, Michael Wyatt, Meilana Gillard, Art Silva, reeds; Erik Gimbel, Larry Everhart, Jim Powell, Bob Larson, Phil Winnard, Ansyn Banks, Brian West, Ben Huntoon, Tim Perdue, trumpet; Linda Landis, Matt Ellis, John Hall, Bill England, Kie Watkins, Ryan Hamilton, Jessica Leach, Matt Benson, trombone; Jim Luellen, piano; Tisha Simeral, Terry Douds, Larry Cook, Chris Michaelides, bass; Steve Schaar, John von Ohlen (14), drums.

Year Released: 2005 | Style: Big Band


More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
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 "Montréal" CD/LP/Track Review Montréal
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Inhuman Wilderness" CD/LP/Track Review Inhuman Wilderness
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 6, 2016
Read "Lowdown Hoedown" CD/LP/Track Review Lowdown Hoedown
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "Aziza" CD/LP/Track Review Aziza
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "Tournesol" CD/LP/Track Review Tournesol
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 3, 2016
Read "Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 17, 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!