In Local Color, the latest in a long series of splendid albums by the University of Northern Iowa's Jazz Band One, color is one of the primary ingredients; every number, in fact, is awash in radiant colors, from the prismatic opener, UNI alum Michael Conrad's "Gerry's Timepiece," to the chimerical closer, Curtis Fuller's dark-hued "The Egyptian." Between them are burnished original compositions by Brian Crew, Jack Cooper and Rick Hirsch; Wayne Shorter's well-grooved "Fee Fi Fo Fum," Eddie Harris' exuberant "Freedom Jazz Dance" and Kurt Weill / Ira Gershwin's elegant standard "My Ship," from the Broadway musical Lady in the Dark.
"I Broke the Dam," written and arranged by Jazz Band One's lead trombonist, Crew, uses star turns by brass, reeds and rhythm to set the stage for ardent solos by guitarist Elvis Phillips, alto saxophonist Ryan Middleton and drummer Chris Jensen leading to a high-spirited resolution that ends with a whimper. Cooper's eloquent tone poem "Amur in Her Heart" enlists the talents of Conrad (organ), guest trumpeter Justin Kisor and UNI faculty member Dr. Mitra Sadeghpour (voice) to weave its special brand of magic around an entrancing theme, while Hirsch's picturesque "Mirage" paints an irresistible picture of sand, sea and sky whose emphatic rhythms enfold robust statements by trombonist Paul Lichty, flutist / tenor saxophonist Sean Koga and trumpeter Jordan Boehm. After a leisurely introduction, "Gerry's Timepiece" settles into a more zestful groove that well suits Middleton's instinctive digressions on alto.
Crew, trumpeter Ryan Garmoe and vibraphonist Patrick Cunningham share solo honors on "Fee Fi Fo Fum." Koga (tenor) and Phillips are out front on "Freedom Jazz Dance," Lichty, Cunningham, Koga, Jensen and Boehm on "The Egyptian," while Garmoe's flugelhorn is showcased on "My Ship." The band as a whole is exemplary, and director Chris Merz deserves three cheers for having his young charges primed and ready to face the erraticisms of the recording studio. In sum, Local Color proves a worthy addition to UNI's growing catalog of admirable recordings.
Gerry’s Timepiece; Fee Fi Fo Fum; I Broke the Dam; Amur in Her Heart (for Oksana); Freedom Jazz Dance; Mirage; My Ship; The Egyptian.
Chris Merz: director; Dan Meier: trumpet; Andrew Teutsch: trumpet; Ryan Garmoe: trumpet; Jordan Boehm: trumpet; Michael Prichard: trumpet; Ryan Middleton, Sam Bills, Sean Koga, Mark Northrup, Mason Meyers: saxophones, woodwinds; Brian Crew: trombone; Paul Lichty: trombone; Brent Mead: trombone; Thomas Rauch: trombone; Elvis Phillips: guitar; Seth Butler: piano; Riley Scheetz: bass; Chris Jensen: drums; Patrick Cunningham: vibraphone, percussion. Guests – Michael Conrad: composer (1), organ (4); Dr. Mitra Sadeghpour: voice (4); Justin Kisor: trumpet (4).
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