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Bassist Thomas Winterhalder was kind enough to send this CD by the Jazz ensemble at the Hochschwarzwald Youth Music School in Germany’s beautiful black forest with a letter explaining that “all the musicians . . . on the CD [except for conductor Götz Ertle and vocalist Esther Kaiser] make music as their hobby.” Well, for student/hobbyists they ain’t half bad, performing together as capably as many college–level big bands in this country. Like every German band we’ve heard, amateur or pro, the JMSH ensemble is alert and well–disclipined, and if the soloists don’t produce any goose bumps they are at least passable. Pianist/organist Hans–Peter Ertle, who may be related to the conductor (and is featured on Peter Herbolzheimer’s arrangement of “Girl Talk”), fares best in that arena while drummer Frank Hättich anchors a sharp and industrious rhythm section. Brass and reeds, meanwhile, earn medal–winning marks on Bob Mintzer’s serpentine composition, “Computer,” and Sammy Nestico’s affectionate “Tribute to the Count.” Kaiser, who is heard on “Every Day I Have the Blues,” “How High the Moon” and Hoagy Carmichael’s classic “Skylark,” is a clear–voiced contralto with a burnished delivery, a radiant tendency to swing and hardly a trace of an accent. Guitarist Tobias Schwab wrote the Latin prancer “Frillero” and contributed a stylish arrangement of Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” (on which his guitar plays a leading role). Jetz isch Zitt, by the way, translates into English as “Now’s the Time,” which is the title of the opening track. JMSH isn’t Basie or Herman, but it’s a solid, well–rehearsed college–level band whose leader, Götz Ertle, is obviously an exemplary conductor and teacher. If you’d like to hear that for yourself, get in touch with Thomas Winterhalder at the address below.
Track listing: Now’s the Time; Frillero; Every Day I Have the Blues; Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; Tribute to the Count; How High the Moon; Girl Talk; Computer; Skylark; Well You Needn’t; On Broadway (62:21).