226

Steve Huffsteter Big Band: Live at Cafe 322

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Huffsteter Big Band: Live at Cafe 322 The cat has been released from the bag. Trumpeter Steve Huffsteter's big band, for years a well-kept secret beyond its home base in Southern California, has at last introduced itself to the rest of the country (and the world) via Live at Café 322 (in Sierra Madre). Huffsteter, who long ago validated his credentials as one of the Los Angeles area's leading composer / arranger / trumpeters, has kept the band working, at least sporadically, since it was formed but hadn't seen fit until now to document its prowess (a previous version of the band recorded a somewhat informal DVD, Gathered Around, that was released on AIX Records about three years ago).

Live at Café 322 embodies eight of Huffsteter's original compositions, three of which ("Moacir, "3 ½, "A Waltz and Battery ) were also included on the DVD. The album opens with the cleverly named "4 Miles, which could be read as an area on a map, the distance to the nearest pub, or, more likely, as a tribute to another well-known trumpeter, surname Davis, a supposition that is evidently borne out by Husffsteter's Gil Evans-style chart and Miles Davis-inspired muted trumpet. Tenor Jerry Pinter adds persuasive commentary on the breezy "Moacir and seductive "Slo Flo.

"Soul Foo Yung, the session's longest track at 10:10, is, to me, the least rewarding as well, owing not to its likable Oriental theme but to largely turgid and desultory solos by tenor Doug Webb and soprano Rick Keller. Keller fares better on "Astral Glide and "3 ½, on which he plays alto sax, not soprano as stated on the jacket, complementing dapper solos on the latter by trombonist Andrew Lippman and guitarist Jamie Findley. Drummer Dave Tull sounds a tad heavy-handed, especially on "3 ½ and "Soul Foo Yung, but others may find him perfectly acceptable, as tastes do vary widely.

"Dream Waltz, a sensuous charmer, is enhanced by Mark Massey's expressive piano and Pinter's supple tenor, while "A Waltz encompasses lucid remarks by trombonist Les Benedict, bassist Chris Connor and Webb, who seems more at ease on soprano. Huffsteter, who is apparently modest to a fault, doesn't list his solos but takes at least two, on "4 Miles and "Moacir, the last on flugelhorn. The concert is well-recorded, and the only audible flaws noticed, quite early on in "Astral Glide, were insignificant. The playing time is a respectable sixty-two minutes plus.

As noted, Huffsteter's band has been an audience favorite in Southern California for years, and now everyone else has a chance to hear and assess what has captivated its legion of staunch admirers. Live at Café 322 paints a fairly accurate portrait of the ensemble in a concert setting, one that should help spread the word that its excellent reputation is on the mark and well-deserved.


Track Listing: Miles; 3

Personnel: Steve Huffsteter: leader, trumpet, flugelhorn; Pete DeSiena: trumpet; Lee Thornburg: trumpet; Larry McGuire: trumpet; Mark Lewis: trumpet; Billy Kerr: reeds; Rick Keller: reeds; Doug Webb, : reeds; Jerry Pinter: reeds; Jim Cowger: reeds; Jack Redmond: trombone; Les Benedict: trombone; Andrew Lippman: trombone; Morris Repass: bass trombone; Jamie Findley: guitar; Mark Massey: piano; Chris Connor: bass; Dave Tull: drums; D. Huffsteter: percussion.

Title: Live at Cafe 322 | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: SH Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds" CD/LP/Track Review Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: August 6, 2017
Read "Point and Line" CD/LP/Track Review Point and Line
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Popofoni" CD/LP/Track Review Popofoni
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Inland Sea" CD/LP/Track Review Inland Sea
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 4, 2016

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.