265

Ray Brown’s Great Big Band: Kayak

By

Sign in to view read count
Not to be confused with the late, legendary bassist of the same name, San Francisco-based bandleader/arranger Ray Brown, an ex-trumpeter with the Stan Kenton and Full Faith & Credit Big Band big bands, drives his own nineteen-piece ensemble populated by the Bay Area's A-list musicians. Brown, whose percussionist father pioneered jazz education in the public schools of Long Beach, New York over seven decades ago, steadfastly maintains the legacy of the recently-deceased Canadian composer/arranger Rob McConnell in his deft yet swinging charts of Great American Songbook and contemporary jazz standards.

Cole Porter's "So In Love" (including an interpolation of Henry Mancini's "Charade") kicks off the CD with lead altoist Mary Fettig, one of three Kenton alumni (the others are trumpeter Steve Campos and the leader) aboard, displaying her formidable solo abilities. Fettig also shines on "Indian Summer," along with Brown's brother Steve on guitar. The title track, by Canadian-born trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, showcases Steve Brown together with trumpet prodigy Erik Jekobsen. Tenor saxophonist Charlie McCarthy occupies center stage on "I Fall In Love Too Easily" (the Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn classic immortalized by Frank Sinatra and, later, Chet Baker), and also contributes to Frank Loesser's "I've Never Been In Love Before" (from the original Broadway production of Guys and Dolls but sadly cut from the film version), which contains this album's lone vocal by Gail Dobson.

The five-man trombone section is featured individually and collectively in Frank Rosolino's jazz waltz "Blue Daniel," while Oscar Pettiford's "Tricrotism" spotlights three-quarters of the rhythm section (guitarist Steve Brown, pianist Eddie Mendenhall, and bassist John Shifflett), backed by smooth woodwinds. Young Mendenhall also sparkles on Bill Evans' standard, "Turn Out the Stars," and "Del Sasser," by the late bassist Sam Jones.

Brown dedicates his chart on Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here to Stay" to his late brother, Glenn, Jr., and his wife, Barbara (this was their favorite tune), and showcases trombonist Dave Eshelman (Ray's colleague in Full Faith & Credit Big Band and erstwhile leader of his own Bay Area-based large ensemble) and tenorist Bennett Friedman, the latter of whom also delivers a blistering improvisation on John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice." Sergio Mendes' ballad, "Song of No Regrets," presents Jekobsen, this time on flugelhorn, with the reed section beautifully led by Fettig on alto flute. Last, but most certainly not least, Miles Davis and Victor Feldman's "Seven Steps to Heaven," carries the band out in a most swinging manner, complete with tongue-in-cheek quotes from Harold Arlen's "Ding-Dong, The Witch Is Dead!" and Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely,," plus solo statements from McCarthy, trumpeter Don Beck, and, in his only solo, Los Angeles-based drummer Steve Houghton, who otherwise propels the band with great precision.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Harlem CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "3rio" CD/LP/Track Review 3rio
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Satori" CD/LP/Track Review Satori
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Such A Sky" CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Tipico" CD/LP/Track Review Tipico
by James Nadal
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 1, 2016
Read "Smokin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966)" CD/LP/Track Review Smokin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966)
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 14, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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