142

Bill Banfield and the B-Magic Orchestra: Jazz Chamber Works

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Banfield marshals his compositional ideas from a number of sources including Jazz, hip–hop, blues, soul and other contemporary modes of expression. He wrote the first three selections on Jazz Chamber Works, two of which (“Her Embrace,” “Bill’s Blue”) work fairly well, in spite of a recording venue that sharpens and amplifies orchestral and individual timbres to near headache–inducing scope. The rest of the concert program at St. Paul, MN’s Landmark Center is more familiar, consisting of Rodgers and Hart’s standard, “My Funny Valentine,” and works by Antonio Carlos Jobim (“How Insensitive”), Wayne Shorter (“Footprints”), Duke Ellington (“Come Sunday”) and Miles Davis (“Nardis”). Again, Banfield makes good use of the orchestra’s rather unusual instrumentation but is undermined by sub–standard acoustics that overstate its less melodious aspects while subverting every artful nuance. Another shortcoming — one that must be laid at Banfield’s feet — is that almost nothing swings, in spite of the orchestra’s best efforts to do so. The ensemble sounds more ponderous than its numbers would suggest, and never really leaves the ground and soars. Its heart is in the right place but not its soul, with only saxophonist Pete Whitman (alto on “Come Sunday,” soprano on “Nardis”) generating any measurable heat. Whitman adds a respectable alto solo on “Her Embrace” but is less effective (as is everyone else) on the strident curtain–raiser, “Little Lady,” whose poorly shaped preamble devolves into a series of largely indifferent statements by sopranino Doug Ewart, trombonist Jim Ten Bensel, bass clarinetist Bruce Thornton and Whitman (again on alto). “Bill’s Blues” is, of course, the blues, but it’s more screechy than sincere (especially Ewart’s soprano) and even forceful solos by trumpeter Joe Cosgrove and bassist Joan Griffith can’t keep the ship afloat. In the end, the venture sinks under its own weight, and how much of that can be blamed on the recording itself and how much on Banfield’s charts is hard to determine. Whatever the reason or reasons, the net result — in our opinion — is well below satisfactory, although some parts of the album are definitely worth hearing.

Contact:American Composers Forum, 332 Minnesota St., E–145, St. Paul, MN 55101. www.innovarecordings.com; innova@composersforum.org


Track Listing: And What Would You Like to Hear, Little Lady?; Her Embrace; Bill

Personnel: Bill Banfield, conductor, composer, arranger, piano; Pete Whitman, alto, soprano sax, flute; Bruce Thornton, tenor sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; Carolyn Boulay, violin, electric string; Joe Cosgrove, trumpet, flugelhorn; Chris Volpe, trumpet; Jim Ten Bensel, trombone, baritone sax, bass trumpet, cello; Tom Wells, tuba; Joan Griffith, bass, acoustic guitar; Douglas Ewart, percussion, didgeridoo, sopranino sax; Nathan Norman, drums.

Title: Jazz Chamber Works | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Innova Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Beginnings CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Synchronic CD/LP/Track Review Synchronic
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "A Tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers" CD/LP/Track Review A Tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "That Feelin'" CD/LP/Track Review That Feelin'
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "Tiptoe" CD/LP/Track Review Tiptoe
by Jerome Wilson
Published: December 1, 2016
Read "Beyond the Moon" CD/LP/Track Review Beyond the Moon
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 12, 2017
Read "The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure" CD/LP/Track Review The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.