Bang! is an apt description of David Ricard's approach to big-band endeavors in general and holiday music in particular. The bassist / arranger's talented ensemble comes out swinging hard on Holidays with a Bang! and keeps its collective foot on the accelerator throughout this charming laundry list of well-worn seasonal favorites given a fresh new appearance thanks to Ricard's burnished arrangements.
Ricard, a seasoned composer for such cartoons as Tom and Jerry, the Pink Panther and Pals and Maya & Miguel, implanted his singular emblem on the band's inaugural recording, Hey, I Know This Song, on which he recast well-known classical themes into a big-band format. The first seven tracks on Bang! are similarly inspired, starting with "The Merry Mash-Up," a hard-driving rendition of holiday evergreens from "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Joy to the World" to "Jingle Bells," "The First Noel," "Silent Night" and "O Come All Ye Faithful" (among others). The upbeat mood continues through "God Rest Ye Merry Surfers" (featuring guitarist Matt Hornbeck), "The Swingin' Drummer Dude" (Geoff Nudell, alto sax; Steve Pemberton, drums), "The Jingle Bells Cha Cha" (Jordan Seigel, piano), "Auld Lang Syne" (Erik Hughes, trombone), Vince Guaraldi's "Skating" (Kyle O'Donnell, tenor sax) and "Jingle Bell Swing."
The album's four "bonus" tracks showcase vocalist Aubrey Logan (who doubles on trombone) with a smaller group comprised of Nudell (tenor sax), Hornbeck, Seigel, Ricard and drummer Satoshi Kirisawa. They are engaging in their own way, with the ensemble cheerfully gamboling its way through "Jingle Jangle Jungle," a reprise of "Auld Lang Syne," "We'll Wrap It Up on New Year's Eve" and "Jingle Bell Waltz." The band is topnotch, and Ricard has shown in less than a year that he's a rising star in the undersized realm of big-band arranging. Whatever your seasonal plans, Holidays with a Bang! is neatly designed to get them off to a swinging start.
The Merry Mash-Up; God Rest Ye Merry Surfers; The Swingin’ Drummer Dude; The Jingle Bells Cha Cha; Auld Lang Syne; Skating; Jingle Bell Swing. Bonus Tracks – Jingle Jangle Jungle; Auld Lang Syne; We’ll Wrap It Up on New Year’s Eve; Jingle Bell Waltz.
David Ricard: leader, bass, arranger; Chad Willis: trumpet; Javier Gonzalez: trumpet; Jon Bradley: trumpet; Matt Rubin: trumpet; Geoff Nudell, Claudio Alcantar, Kyle O’Donnell, Max Kaplan, Ashley Jarmack: saxophones; James McMillen: trombone; Erik Hughes: trombone; Erm Navarro: trombone; Jacob Kraft: trombone; Jordan Seigel: piano; Matt Hornbeck: guitar; Harry Smallenburg: vibes; Steve Pemberton: drums; Jose Perez: percussion; Aubrey Logan: vocals (8-11).