74

The Cedar Avenue Big Band: Land of 10,000 Licks

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago (where has the time flown?) the Cedar Avenue Big Band recorded its first album, Lazy Orange. At the time, it was a rather unpolished ensemble whose weekly gigs at O’Gara’s nightclub in St. Paul, MN, evinced far more earnestness and energy than proficiency. Now comes Land of 10,000 Licks, and wow! What a mind-blowing surprise! To reiterate our opening remark, what a difference a decade makes. Any resemblance between this band and the one that recorded Lazy Orange is all but invisible.

Obviously, the “new” CABB hasn’t spent the last ten years treading water. While some of the sidemen may go back as far as Lazy Orange,, this clearly isn’t the same band as the one that introduced itself on record back in ‘93. Bass trombonist Steve Devich now runs the show, and he must be doing something right, as the band is about as talented as any regional ensemble you’d care to name.

One of the goals on this studio date was to showcase composers and arrangers from the Twin Cities, and aside from two charts by George Stone (“Just One of Those Things,“ “It Might as Well Be Spring”) everything on the album was composed and/or arranged by current or former members of the CABB. The new works, all of which are handsomely drawn, include Devich’s “Double Bogey Blues,” trumpeter John Ahern’s “Merlyn” and “Spanker,” trombonist Jeff Rinear’s “Blue Disclosure,” alto Pete Whitman’s “Dr. No-Know” and alumnus Dean Sorenson’s “Quick Fix.”

Licks opens in an amiable groove with Devich’s bright arrangement of the old Dixieland tune “Angry” (solos by bassist Bruce Heine and tenor Merle Knudson). “Blue Disclosure” provides an ethereal setting for baritone John Zimmerman, trumpeter Greg Lewis, trombonist Mike Haynes and Whitman, while Sorenson’s brisk treatment of Tadd Dameron’s boppish “Tadd’s Delight” spotlights the CABB’s stalwart rhythm section—Heine, pianist Mark Asche and drummer Phil Hey. Knudson has center stage to himself on “It Might as Well Be Spring,” Ahern on “That’s All,” Rinear on J.J. Johnson’s “Lament,” Whitman on “One of Those Things,” trumpeter Kyle Newmaster on George Cables’ buoyant “I Told You So” There’s one vocal, by Twin Cities luminary Bruce Henry on the tongue-in-cheek “Double Bogey Blues.”

For those who are or may be in the Twin Cities area, the Cedar Avenue Big Band still plays each Monday night at O’Gara’s Bar & Grill in St. Paul; for those who aren’t or won’t be, Land of 10,000 Licks is the next best thing to seeing and hearing this superlative group of musicians in person.


Track Listing: Angry; Blue Disclosure; Tadd

Personnel: Bob Hallgrimson, Jeff Jensen (5-10, 12, 13), Phil Holm (1-4, 11), Kyle Newmaster (5,8, 9, 12), John Ahern, Greg Lewis, trumpet; Pete Whitman, Clay Pufahl (6, 7, 10, 13), alto sax, flute; Bill Gervasio (1-4, 11), Nick Vedeen (5, 8, 9, 12), alto sax; Merle Knudson, tenor sax, clarinet; Dave Brattain, tenor sax, flute; John Zimmerman, baritone sax, clarinet; Jeff Rinear, Mike Haynes, Phil Florine, trombone; Steve Devich, bass trombone; Mark Asche, piano; Bruce Heine, bass; Phil Hey, drums; Bruce Henry, vocal (

Year Released: 2004 | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Lab 2016" CD/LP/Track Review Lab 2016
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "To The Universe" CD/LP/Track Review To The Universe
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 14, 2016
Read "Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show" CD/LP/Track Review Machine Gun: Live At The Fillmore East First Show
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Hearts & Minds" CD/LP/Track Review Hearts & Minds
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Duet" CD/LP/Track Review Duet
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "Blow" CD/LP/Track Review Blow
by Budd Kopman
Published: June 1, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!