206

The University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble: Low-Down

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Every so often a new undergraduate Jazz Studies program steps forward to make its voice heard loudly and clearly as it establishes itself among the front ranks of college Jazz ensembles. The latest to do this is the University of Michigan, and here we have the Low–Down to prove it. The UM big band has come a long way in a brief time under talented composer / pianist / director Ellen Rowe, the proof of which is readily apparent throughout the ensemble’s debut recording, completed over a four–day period in May ’99. Rowe, a fan of the late composer / trumpeter Thad Jones, chose as the album’s title selection one of Thad’s most lyrical and engaging works (wonderfully performed by the ensemble around snazzy solos by tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder, trumpeter Dylan Kruziki and pianist Brian DiBlasio). “Low–Down” is only one among many highlights, however; the fun gets under way immediately with bassist John Clayton’s swinging treatment of the standard “’Deed I Do” (complete with synchronous sax soli) and continues through Michael Brecker’s “Madame Toulouse” (arranged by Rowe, as is the lovely Gershwin standard “I’ve Got a Crush on You”), tenor Andrew Bishop’s sensuous tango, “Funeral Music for Jobim and Piazzolla” (on which he’s also the soloist), Paul Ferguson’s emphatic “Rooms for Tourists” (recorded four years ago by Germany’s superb RIAS Big Band on the album Blue Highways ), UM faculty member Ed Sarath’s free–wheeling “Solidarity” (the most adventurous piece on the program) and Neal Hefti’s well–written page from the Basie book, “Splanky.” There’s one vocal, by Sachal Vasandani, on his Billy May–like arrangement of the Nat Cole hit, “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home.” Soloists are respectable, about what one would expect from a first–rank college–level ensemble, and Rowe gives nearly everyone a chance to ad–lib including Bauder, Bishop, Kruziki, DiBlasio, trombonist Vincent Chandler (admirably showcased on “Crush on You”), vibraphonist Steven Aho, trumpeters Tal Kopstein and Ben Polcer, baritone David Luther, tenor / soprano Mike Bromwell, pianists Neil Donato and Ben Yonas, alto Dean Moore II and guitarist Randy Napoleon. This solid, no–frills big–band session betokens an outstanding debut for Rowe’s UM ensemble, one that is easily recommended.

Track listing: ’Deed I Do; Madame Toulose; Funeral Music for Jobim and Piazzolla; Low–Down; I’ve Got a Crush on You; Walkin’ My Baby Back Home; Rooms for Tourists; Solidarity; Splanky (59:39).

Personnel:

Ellen Rowe, director; Mike Bomwell, Dean Moore II, Bryan Pardo, Matt Bauder, Peterson Ross, David Luther, saxophones; Bert Johnson, Dylan Kruziki, Jeremy McBain, Tal Kopstein, Ben Polcer, trumpets; John Rutherford, Terry Kimura, Drew Leslie, Garrett Mendez, trombones; Brian DiBlasio (1, 4, 5, 8), Neil Donato (3, 6, 7), Ben Yonas (2, 9), piano; Randy Napoleon, guitar; Zach Wallace (1, 3

| Record Label: BOPO Records | Style: Big Band


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Lingo" CD/LP/Track Review Lingo
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 10, 2017
Read "On Hollywood Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Cada Fuego Es El Primero" CD/LP/Track Review Cada Fuego Es El Primero
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Hawniyaz" CD/LP/Track Review Hawniyaz
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "One for Marian" CD/LP/Track Review One for Marian
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "La vie commence ici" CD/LP/Track Review La vie commence ici
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 20, 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!