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New York Voices: Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne

C. Michael Bailey By

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New York Voices celebrates its Silver Anniversary with the release of the jazz vocal quartet's first completely live recording, Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne, recorded at the Kölner Philharmonie in May, 2008. Sharing a jazz ensemble field with The Manhattan Transfer and the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet has in no way dampened the group's efforts to carve out its place. In fact, New York Voices has done a very effective job, doing so with authority; the group displays a versatility that has been widely remarked upon in jazz literature and is in abundant evidence here.

Backing the quartet is the 350-horsepower West GermanRadio Big Band Cologne, which has provided similar support to jazz artists as disparate as trombonist/composer Bob Brookmeyer, saxophonist Maceo Parker and singer Patti Austin. The quartet allows this fine band equal time in solos, all appropriate for the material played. The show is dynamically arranged to address a spectrum of jazz vocals and performance from the swing era to the zenith of hard bop.

The quartet covers two Paul Simon songs: "Baby Driver," from Simon & Garfunkle's Bridge Over Troubled Water (Columbia, 1970), given a tremendous big band treatment that incorporates much from swing era harmonies, deftly mixed with the influence of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross; and "I Do It For Your Love," from Still Crazy After All These Years (Warner Bros., 1975), which is treated as a delicate ballad with plush orchestration and careful arrangement by Gil Goldstein, Andy Ezrin and the Voices. The band's famous arrangement of singer Mark Murphy' lyric-driven version of Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" comes early in the set, a ten-minute tour de force featuring solos by trombonist Ludwig Nuss and alto saxophonist Heiner Wilberny. Arranged by the Voices' Darmon Meader, the piece features some great ensemble scatting before the horn solos. Very impressive.

Anchoring the performance is the group's rendition of Jimmy Van Heusen's "Darn That Dream," arranged again by Meaders, Lee Pardini, and fellow New York Voices partner Peter Eldridge, who handles the lead vocals. Also lengthy, but justified for the invention put into it, the remaining vocalists double the horns and provide continuous harmony and background vocals. Eldridge allows time for Jens Neufang to solo on bass clarinet, while Meader gives a clinic on scat before handing the reigns to trumpeter John Marshall for a low key but radioactive solo. There are other surprises to be found, including Annie Lennox's "Cold," Walter Donaldson's "Love Me Or Leave Me," and the beautifully schizophrenic "In The Wee Small Hours In The Morning." A very entertaining concert offering something for everyone.

Track Listing: Baby Driver; Stolen Moments; Love Me or Leave Me; In the Wee Small Hours Of The Morning; Cold; The World Keeps You Waiting; Do It For Your Love; Darn That Dream; Almost Like Being In Love; The Sultan Fainted.

Personnel: Kim Nazarian: voice; Peter Eldridge: voice; Lauren Kinhan: voice; Darmon Meader: voice; Heiner Wilberny: alto saxophone; Karolina Strassmayer: alto saxophone; Olivier Peters: tenor saxophone; Paul Heller: tenor saxophone; Jens Neufang: baritone saxophone; Andy Haderer: trumpet; Rob Bruynen: trumpet; Klaus Osterioh: trumpet; Wim Both: trumpet; John Marshall: trumpet; Ludwig Nuss: trombone; Dave Horler: trombone; Bernt Laukamp: trombone; Mattis Cederberg: bass-trombone; Frank Castenier: piano; Paul Shigihara: guitar; John Goldsby: bass; Hans Dekker: drums.

Title: Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

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