Recording a band in the studio during the peak of a tour can yield a session that reflects the synergy gained from repeated nights on the road. Hindustan is just such an occasion, capturing the breadth of this large, swinging aggregation on a varied program of standards and new music written especially for these players.
The original opener, "Stompin' on a Riff, starts innocently enough as pianist Isaac Ben Ayala, bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Jimmy Madison state the infectious riff. The band's authority soon becomes self-evident as the horns punch out and Brian "Fletch Pareschi solos powerfully on muted trumpet. Berger's arrangements are exquisite: Thad Jones' catchy "No Refill is beautifully declared by brass/clarinet voicings, the title cut's percussive/bass clarinet interplay melds swing with exotica, and "Monkey Business opines on the curious consequences of placing Monk at the helm of a big band.
Midway through, vocalist Aria Hendricks blends with the Sultans on three tunes that run the gamut from the frenetic swing of "Too Marvelous for Words through the pensive balladry of "The Very Thought of You to the blues-rock of "I Don't Hurt Anymore. "The Rising Storm provides the requisite Latin-tinged dance number before all stops are pulled out for the swinging burner "A Whole New You.
"Parting Words allows one last slow dance, bringing the night to a perfect close. Berger has successfully translated the power and finesse of a first-class working big band to CD by offering up the music played the way it was meant to be.
Track Listing: Stompin
Personnel: David Berger: conductor; Jay Brandford, Todd Bashore, Dan Block, Mark Hynes, Carl Maraghi: reeds; Bob Milikan, Brian "Fletch" Pareschi, Irv Grossman, Seneca Black: trumpets; Wayne Goodman, Ryan Keberle, Jeff Bush: trombones; Isaac Ben Ayala: piano; Deniis Irwin: bass; Jimmy Madison: drums; Aria Hendricks: vocals.