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The Paul Cacia Jazz Orchestra: Legacy -- The Last Sessions

Jack Bowers By

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If name-dropping were a criterion, Paul Cacia's Legacy would surely be among the most notable albums in the annals of jazz. The booklet lists no fewer than 25 special guests, including a quartet of legendary arrangers—Sammy Nestico, Ernie Wilkins, Bill Holman and Pete Rugolo. Would that names were all that was needed to guarantee success.

Not that the music is less than passable most of the time, but one should expect more from the sort of talent assembled for "the last sessions (recorded, we're told, between 1991-2005). I don't know exactly what Cacia had in mind, but any big band album that opens with a high-note trumpet version of Giacomo Puccini's "Nessun Dorma is atypical, to say the least.

Nearly twenty of Cacia's guests take at least one brief solo (those who don't include Marshal Royal, Snooky Young, Tito Puente, Jack Nimitz, Buddy Collette and Vince DeRosa). On Rugolo's "Overtime, which plays for under five minutes, there are concise statements by trumpeters Joe Davis, Sal Marquez, and the Candoli brothers, Pete and Conte; saxophonists Ray Reed, Don Menza, Pete Christlieb and Gabe Baltazar; trombonists Les Benedict and Bill Watrous, bassist Dave Stone and drummer Louie Bellson. Sardines, anyone?

Vocalist Jennifer Wood is splendid on "Why Don't You Do Right, Watrous, Christlieb and trumpeter Chuck Findley likewise on Duke Jordan's "Jordu. Elsewhere, the best efforts of ensemble and soloists are usually engulfed by a tide of excessive reverb and invasive strings (unlisted in the booklet). Cacia, who arranged and solos on "Nessun Dorma, also arranged "Why Don't You Do Right and co-arranged with Rugolo "Overtime, "Angel Eyes, "Love for Sale and "'Round Midnight. Holman arranged "Jordu, Nestico Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler's "Stormy Weather.

While the music is at least straightforward and accessible, I'm baffled by the album's premise. It's subtitled The Last Sessions—but whose? There's no indication anywhere that Cacia is retiring, and even though some of the musicians have since left us, that couldn't have been known in advance. Nat Hentoff's liner notes, which seem to have been written while he was waiting for a bus, are no help at all: just flowery prose that is essentially meaningless.

And so the mystery endures. An album, I suppose, to file under "nice try, but... In other words, there's simply too much pretension and not enough substance to earn an endorsement. And please note the 38:33 playing time, presumably the end result of fourteen years in the studio.

Visit Paul Cacia on the web.


Track Listing: Nessun Dorma; Take the

Personnel: Paul Cacia: leader, conductor, trumpet. The Modern Studio Masters: Charlie Davis, Wayne Bergeron, Rick Baptist, Joe Davis, Frank Szabo: trumpet; Marshal Royal, Buddy Collette, Don Menza, Jay Migliori, Jack Nimitz, Rusty Higgins: reeds; Eric Jorgensen, David Stout, Mike Daigeau, Rich Bullock, Phil Teele: trombone; Tommy Johnson: tuba; Vince DeRosa, Art Maebe, Gus Klein, Jim Avery, Jeff DeRosa: horns; Paul Smith, Jimmy Rowles: piano; Dave Stone, Jeff Falcone: bass; Milcho Leviev, Louie Bellson: drums; Jennifer Wood: vocal (4). Special guests: Harry

Title: Legacy -- The Last Sessions | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Empressario


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