With virtually the same instrumentation as Miles Davis' so-called Tuba Band - only a French horn is missing, replaced by a second trombone - the Marohnic, Pilafian, Hopkins Jazz Nonet revisits the legacy of the Davis nonet on their outstanding debut album (named, fittingly, after a Davis drawing, featured on the CD cover).
Three tunes from Davis' "Birth of the Cool" sessions form the heart of the album, but this is more than just a tribute or repertory ensemble. The take on John Carisi's "Israel," for example, is dramatically opened up, offering extended solo opportunities for Samuel Pilafian on tuba, trombonist Gary Carney, pianist Chuck Marohnic, trumpeter Greg Hopkins, and alto saxophonist Bryon Ruth. The versions of two Gil Evans-arranged classics, "Boplicity" and "Moondreams," stick closer to the originals, which is to say they're near-perfect examples of sleek, seductive, sophisticated group harmonization.
Along with a splendid solo blues by Marohnic and a straight-ahead group romp through McCoy Tyner's "Mode for John," the rest of the album is a showcase for the estimable composing skills of Hopkins. His three originals run from the high-energy bebop of "Hidden Agenda," to the somewhat languorous "Bas Relief," to the closing "Mystic Valley," an engaging mid-tempo swinger that casually builds up momentum behind fine solo turns by Marohnic, Hopkins and bassist Ed Friedland.
With the exception of a few meandering solos and occasionally overstuffed arrangements, this album is a real delight. All the musicians featured here are talented, well-schooled jazz artists, worthy of greater recognition.
Boplicity; Hidden Agenda; Bas Relief; Israel; Mode To John; Just Blues; Moon Dreams; Mystic Valley.Collective
Greg Hopkins- trumpet; Gary Carney, Russell Scarbrough- trombone; Samuel Pilafian- tuba; Scott Zimmer- alto sax; Bryon Ruth- alto sax, tenor sax; Steven Von Wald- baritone sax; Chuck Marohnic- piano; Ed Friedland- bass; Dom Moio- drums.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.