Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band / Michael Treni Big Band / Millennium Jazz Orchestra

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band

This Time / Last Year

MAMA Records

2012

Until now, bassist / educator Kris Berg, who oversees the Jazz Studies program at Collin College near Dallas, TX, has been widely known and respected as someone who writes and arranges songs for others to play. From now on, he'll doubtless be known and respected as leader of his own world-class ensemble, the Metroplexity Big Band, whose debut recording, This Time / Last Year, embodies half a dozen of Berg's engaging compositions and nine of his superlative charts.

Berg has undergirded an A-list of Dallas-area musicians with guest trumpeters Clay Jenkins and Wayne Bergeron, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and flutist Chris Vadala to produce an album that enfolds his music within a framework that is solid, spontaneous and swinging. Jenkins and Marsalis solo on the well-grooved opener, Sigmund Romberg's "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise." Jenkins reappears with tenor saxophonist Brian Clancy and drummer Stockton Helbing on Wayne Shorter's graceful "Night Dreamer," Vadala's alto flute is showcased on Luiz Bonfa's "The Gentle Rain," while Bergeron ushers the trumpets through their paces on Berg's funky "Games," solos on flugelhorn and sprays high notes on the minor blues "Forgotten Thoughts," and hangs above the clouds again on the Afro-Cuban toe-tapper, "Pah-Dah-Pah-Dah."

Guest stars aside, the MPBB has some formidable weapons of its own, which Berg employs wisely to add dash and color throughout his well-drawn arrangements. The foundation is sound, as Berg, Helbing, pianist Kurt Ellingson and guitarist Tom Burchill comprise a sharp and resilient rhythm section (pianist Roberto Verastegui sits in on "The Gentle Rain," guitarist Noel Johnston on "Games"). Section work is consistently admirable, and as for soloists, there are engaging statements from Clancy, Helbing, Johnston, Ellingson, tenor Jeff Robbins, altos Tim Ishii ("Forgotten Thoughts," whose Oliver Nelson influence is palpable), Collin Hauser ("Games") and Bruce Bohnstengel ("I'm Okay, We're OK!"), trumpeter Ken Edwards and trombonist Michael Burgess. Ishii is especially eloquent with Bergeron on "Thoughts," Edwards (on flugel) likewise on "This Time / Last Year," a lyrical set piece written by Berg for his "wife and best friend," Yvette. Completing the program is Berg's playful, up-tempo "RU Chicken?" (solos by Robbins, Ellingson and Helbing).

For those who may have been wondering, a word about the band's name: the Dallas-Fort Worth area is widely known as the Metroplex, hence the label Metroplexity Big Band. With This Time / Last Year, Kris Berg has added yet another feather to his already sizable and impressive cap, that of prominent bandleader. Let's hope he chooses to wear that cap quite often.

The Michael Treni Big Band

Boy's Night Out

Bell Productions

2012

The opening number on Boy's Night Out, the second recording by the Michael Treni Big Band, is, to say the least, imprecise. It announces that "Something's Coming," whereas the fact is something's already here; to be precise, one of the most well-stocked and exciting big bands to grace the New York scene in quite some time. Ably led by trombonist / arranger Treni (more about him anon), the band proves in every way that it is a force to be reckoned with, performing flawlessly as a unit while clearing space for a series of keen and resourceful solos by its several resident craftsmen.

Treni, once an up-and-coming trombonist in the Big Apple, abandoned the music business in the '80s to form a company specializing in wireless audio and language interpretation systems, returning to music several years ago as an arranger and eventually forming the MTBB with his friend and producer, Roy Nicolosi, who doubles as the group's baritone saxophonist. Treni's aim was to form a band that excelled at playing his kind of music—charts inspired by Oliver Nelson, Thad Jones, Charles Mingus, Bob Brookmeyer and other legendary arrangers but enriched by Treni's singular approach to the music. That he has done so is unmistakable from the opening measure to the endmost crescendo of Boy's Night Out.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Albert–Hobbs Big Band / Jeff Hamilton–DePaul University Jazz Ensemble / Steve Taylor Big Band Big Band Caravan
Albert–Hobbs Big Band / Jeff Hamilton–DePaul...
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 11, 2012
Read R3: Special Big Band / Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra / Empire Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan
R3: Special Big Band / Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra / Empire...
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2012
Read Bob Mintzer Big Band / Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band / Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra Big Band Caravan
Bob Mintzer Big Band / Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band /...
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 7, 2012
Read Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band / Michael Treni Big Band / Millennium Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan
Kris Berg & the Metroplexity Big Band / Michael Treni...
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 9, 2012
Read Budman-Levy Orchestra / Jens Wendelboe Big Band / DiMartino-Osland Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan
Budman-Levy Orchestra / Jens Wendelboe Big Band /...
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 7, 2012
Read James Morrison / Tall & Small / Millennium Jazz Orchestra Big Band Caravan
James Morrison / Tall & Small / Millennium Jazz...
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 12, 2012
Read "Access for People with Disabilities at Jazz Venues:  What is really missing" The Art and Science of Jazz Access for People with Disabilities at Jazz Venues: What...
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 11, 2018
Read "Charles McPherson: The Man and His Muse" Catching Up With Charles McPherson: The Man and His Muse
by Joan Gannij
Published: March 15, 2018
Read "The Joe Doubleday Quartet at The Jazz Corner" Live Reviews The Joe Doubleday Quartet at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: November 4, 2018