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The Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra: Joyful Noise

Edward Blanco By

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Veteran bassist, arranger/composer Chuck Israels has had the good fortune of performing and recording with some of the best jazz musicians on the planet including legends and icons from Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins to John Coltrane and Stan Getz among many others, though he is best associated with the Bill Evans Trio from 1961 through 1966. Originally from New York but raised in Cleveland, Israels moved to Portland, Oregon where he now resides and founded The Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra showcasing some of the finest players and vocalists in the Northwest performing good old fashion traditional mainstream jazz. Influenced by Horace Silver's distilled version of the bebop sound during his college years, Israels pays tribute to an inspiration by crafting new arrangements of eleven Silver compositions on the group's offering of Joyful Noise, their second recording and swinging interpretation of the music of Horace Silver.

Rather than fielding a typical big band of seventeen or more players, the bassist decided to keep it a bit more intimate and limiting the instrumental group to a light eight-piece ensemble that at times, produces the big band sound when the arrangement calls for it. Israels anchors a standard rhythm section and rounds out the group with a two-piece brass and a three-man reed section that, though may appear small by big group standards, is nevertheless larger than the standard quintet Silver was accustomed to use.

The music kicks off with the oft-recorded 1959 jazz standard from Silver entitled "Sister Sadie," featuring sparkling solos from trumpeter Charlie Porter, and tenor saxophonist David Evans with able support from pianist Dan Gaynor and trombonist John Moak among others. Silver's familiar "Moonrays" is clearly one of the keepers of the set boasting splendid solos from various members of the band. From one of the classic hard-bop albums of all time, Horace Silver and The Jazz Messengers (Blue Note, 1954), Israels and crew deliver sprite treatments of "Creepin' In," "Room 608" as well as a fresh new light read of Silver's first big hit, "Doodlin'" featuring Gaynor's handy work on the keys, and nice solo shots from drummer Christopher Brown and baritone saxophonist Robert Crowell.

After a terrific rendition of "Cool Eyes," the opening track from 6 Pieces of Silver (Blue Note, 1957), the band moves into familiar territory providing a great version of "Strollin,'" from Horace-Scopes (Blue Note, 1960), which happens to be one of the most recorded and recognizable compositions along with "Nica's Dream," from the same album. On this piece, Israels displays some of his appreciable chops on bass while alto saxophonist and flautist John Nastos weighs in on the flute.

The other dishes served well here are, "Cookin' at the Continental," "Home Cookin'" and the humbling soft-colored "Peace." Chuck Israels' Joyful Noise packs a lot of swing and swagger into one of the finest tributes to a legend worthy of his legacy. A joy of a listen for sure, if there's any noise here, it certainly isn't the music.

Track Listing: Sister Sadie; Moonrays; Creepin' In; Doodlin'; Cool Eyes; Opus de Funk; Strollin'; Cookin' at the Continental; Peace; Home Cookin' Room 608.

Personnel: Chuck Israel: bass; Charlie Porter: trumpet; David Evans: tenor saxophone, clarinet; John Nastos: alto saxophone, flute; Robert Crowell: baritone saxophone; Christopher Brown: drums; Dan Gaynor: piano; John Moak: trombone.

Title: Joyful Noise | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

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