Mike Holober and the Gotham Jazz Orchestra: Hiding Out

Karl Ackermann By

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Mike Holober's background as a classical pianist and conductor is just one thing that sets Hiding Out apart from the current crop of big band releases. Holober has worked in a variety of settings from solo, duo, and quintet to large ensembles. Two previous recordings with his Gotham Jazz Orchestra were the critically acclaimed Thought Trains (Sons of Sound Records, 2004) and Quake (Sunnyside Records, 2009), comprised of covers and original Holober compositions. On the ambitious double-disc Hiding Out, Holober has composed all the pieces with one exception, a two-version offering from Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The orchestras of Holober and Maria Schneider share several musicians and an overall sensibility about inventiveness without flamboyance. Trumpeter Tony Kadleck, and saxophonists Charles Pillow and Tim Ries, have credits with both ensembles. Another contingent of the Gotham group are members of trombonist Pete McGuinness' Jazz Orchestra; McGuinness appearing on the "Flow" suite here. Standout solos come from guitarist Steve Cardenas, trumpeters Marvin Stamm, sax players Jon Gordon and Jason Rigby, and Holober himself.

The thirteen-minute opener is the only piece not in the "Flow" suite. It is cinematic in its sweep, Holober adding a funky touch with the Fender Rhodes and alto saxophonist Jon Gordon, and guitarist Jesse Lewis taking solos. The "Flow" suite was commissioned by the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, the NYC suburb ensemble that Holober led for six years. As it unfolds its four movements, Holober guides the undulating sections through a musical travelogue inspired by the natural beauty of the lower Hudson River Valley. He combines the elements of the ebb and flow to "Harlem," where the river, and the suite, come to a conclusion.

The Disc 2 suite, "Hiding Out," commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, finds its stimulus two-thousand miles west, in the wilds of Wyoming. Ben Kono's pensive piccolo begins the "Prelude" joined later by Stamm. As the picture of isolation takes shape, the music, like its source, becomes more heavily textured, eventually taking on the flavor of the west. The underlying Americana motif builds as Cardenas and Holober—now on piano—usher in "Compelled," a movement that develops around gently driving arrangements. Two very brief movements lead to the suite's energetic closer, "It Was Just the Wind," with a brief nod to Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo à la Turk." The eighteen-minute opus is a lively ride across the time and space of the entire suite. Jobim's "Caminhos Cruzados" is offered as a deferential mainstream cover with a second, shorter "radio" version.

Hiding Out is a tribute to nature and those who explore, preserve, and appreciate it. Holober paints a picture that doesn't require tsunamis or tornadic activity, relying on the natural flow of day-to-day events, with judicious and refined weightiness. As it should, the music has the organic feel that Hoboler successfully explored with his quintet on Canyon (Sons of Sound, 2003). His worldview is informed by rich experiences as an environmental activist, U. S. State Department jazz ambassador, and an ongoing role as a jazz professor at New York's City College. In Hiding Out, Holober composes with the influence of what he knows best—music and nature.

Track Listing: CD 1: Jumble; Flow Suite: Movement 1: Tear of the Clouds; Movement 2: Opalescence; Movement 3: Interlude; Movement 4: Harlem. CD 2: Hiding Out Suite: Movement 1: Prelude; Movement 2: Compelled; Movement 3: Four Haiku; Movement 4: Interlude; Movement 5: It Was Just the Wind; Caminhos Cruzados; Caminhos Cruzados (radio version).

Personnel: Mike Holober: conductor, piano/Fender Rhodes; Saxophone/woodwinds: Billy Drewes: alto, soprano, flute (Disc 1: 2-5); Jon Gordon: alto soprano (Disc 1: 1; Disc 2: 1-5); Dave Pietro - alto, soprano, flute, piccolo on (Disc 1: 1; Disc 2: 1-7); Ben Kono - alto, soprano, flute, clarinet, piccolo, penny whistle on (Disc 1: 2-5; Disc 2: 6,7); Adam Kolker - tenor, flute, alto flute, clarinet; Jason Rigby - tenor, flute, clarinet (Disc 1: 2-5); Charles Pillow - tenor, flute, clarinet, alto flute (Disc 1: 1; Disc 2: 1-5); Steve Kenyon - baritone, bass clarinet (Disc 1: 1; Disc 2: 1-5); Carl Maraghi - baritone, bass clarinet (Disc 1: 2-5; Disc 2: 6,7); Trumpet/flugelhorn: Tony Kadleck, Liesl Whitaker; Scott Wendholt; James de LaGarza – (Disc 1: 1-3, 5); Marvin Stamm (Disc 1:3; Disc 2: 1-7); Trombones: Tim Albright - all tracks; Mark Patterson - (Disc 1:1-5; Disc 2: 6, 7); Alan Ferber - (Disc 1:1-5; Disc 2: 6, 7); Bruce Eidem - (Disc 2: 1-5); Pete McGuinness - (Disc 1: 2-5); Nathan Durham; Guitars: Steve Cardenas - (Disc 2: 1-5); Jesse Lewis - (Disc 1:1; Disc 2: 6, 7); Jay Azzolina - (Disc 1: 2-5); Bass: John Hebert; Drums/ percussion: Mark Ferber - (Disc 2: 1-7); Jared Schonig - on Flow, Jumble (Disc 1: 1-5); Rogerio Boccato - (Disc 1:1; Disc 2: 1-7); on Hiding Out, Jumble, Caminhos Cruzados.

Title: Hiding Out | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Zoho Music

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