There aren't many big bands that are as consistently impressive in a studio as they are in person. Here's one that istrumpeter Rob Parton's strapping, Chicago-based JazzTech Big Band. Parton's secret? It's not hard to comprehend. Enlist the best players one can find, give them bright and elaborate charts to sink their chops into, then stand aside and let 'em roar.
Except Parton does much more than stand aside. He also quarterbacks the ensemble's superlative trumpet section and produces splendid solos on both trumpet and flugelhorn ("You've Changed, Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes ). It never hurts the cause to have sharp-shooting soloists, and Parton has rounded up and deputized a number of the Chicago area's fastest and most sure-handed gunslingers. Tenor saxophonist Mark Colby scores well-aimed bull's-eyes on Tom Garling's "Lickety Split and Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things," as do trombonist Tim Coffman on Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss, trumpeter Terry Connell on Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring, pianist JoAnn Daugherty on "I'll Close My Eyes, and bass trombonist Tom Matta on his seductive arrangement of Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind. Colby, trumpeter Kirk Garrison, bassist Tim Fox and drummer Tom Hipskind empty their side arms on the breezy finale, "Knee Deep in Rio.
Trombonist Tom Garling composed and arranged "Lickety Split, "Heads Up and "Rio, and solos smartly with Daugherty on "Heads Up, Colby on "Black Nile and alto Bob Frankich on Don Schamber's sunny arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "It Might as Well Be Spring. Schamber also scored "I'll Close My Eyes, complementing admirable charts by Paul McKee ("Kiss, "Infant Eyes, "Black Nile ), Matta ("Joy Spring ), Chris Madsen ("One of Those Things ) and the late Frank Mantooth ("You've Changed ).
Brass and reeds combine formidable power with due respect for color and dynamics, while the rhythm section, anchored on ten tracks by drummer Bob Rummage, on two by Hipskind, performs with the impeccable timing and reliability of a Swiss watch. Daugherty, the band's newest member, makes an auspicious debut as she shares keyboard duties with veteran Don Stille, while Fox and percussionist Evan Ryan provide indispensable balance. On Just One of Those Things, Parton's intrepid JazzTech Big Band readily enhances its proven stature as a world-class jazz ensemble. An early pacesetter in the Record of the Year sweepstakes.
Track Listing: Lickety Split; Prelude to a Kiss; Heads Up; Infant Eyes; Black Nile; Joy Spring; You
Personnel: Rob Parton, leader, trumpet, flugelhorn; Scott Wagstaff: trumpet; Kirk Garrison: trumpet; Mike McGrath: trumpet; Terry Connell: trumpet; Bob Frankich: alto sax; Bob Rzeszutko: alto sax (1, 3, 6, 8-10, 12); Ken Partyka: alto sax (2, 4, 5, 7, 11); Mark Colby: tenor sax; Brian Budzik: tenor sax; Ted Hogarth: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Tom Garling: trombone; Tim Coffman: trombone (1-3, 6, 8-10, 12); Andy Baker: trombone (2, 4, 5, 7, 11), Brian Jacobi: trombone; Tom Matta: bass trombone; JoAnn Daugherty: piano (1, 3, 6, 8-10, 12), Don Stille: piano (2, 4, 5, 7, 11); Tim Fox: acoustic, electric bass; Bob Rummage: drums (1-7, 9-11), Tom Hipskind: drums (8, 12); Evan Ryan, percussion.