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Chuck Owen has gathered his Florida based Jazz Surge big band together for their first release in more than five years. What comes out is a progressive big band playing at its finest. Although the charts have a modern sound to them, they still are within the realm of mainstream jazz. This group is not George Gruntz's Jazz Band or the Either/Orchestra. With his four originals and two standards, Owen demonstrates that you can write charts that don't have to rely solely on dissonance and way beyond the lines writing to present something "new".
The band is supplemented with outstanding top rank players who do the bulk of the solos. John Abercrombie's cleanly executed guitar lines are in contrast against Tom Parmerter's Miles Davis like cool trumpet playing give a new perspective to the old standard, "But Beautiful". Jack Wilkins's tenor and Tim Hagans's trumpet are featured on Owen's advanced composition "Tarwathi". Abercrombie and Wilkins are up front again on a wildly swinging, fiery rendition of the title tune, "Madcap". Dave Hardman's drums are especially athletic on this cut. The chart for "Beautiful Love" with Keith Oshiro's lovely trombone out front and Mark Neuenschwander's bass underneath has a symphonic feel to it.
The use of the word "surge" in the band's title represents the energy the group creates and the force with which it plays rather than avant-garde or free jazz. And that's what you get, almost an hour's worth of solid big band craftsmanship, exciting but still within the mainstream. Recommended.
Track Listing: Madcap*+; Tarwathi+; Beautiful Love+; I Don't Hear Nothin'+; Magic Light*; But Beautiful
Personnel: Chuck Owen - Leader/Keyboards; Valerie Gillespie, Tami Danielsson, Jack Wilkins, Rex Wertz, Matt Vance - Woodwinds; John Robinson, Ron Turner*, Jay Coble+, Mike Iapichino, Tom Parmerter - Trumpet; Keith Oshiro, Chris Clifton, Andrea Rawlison*, Jerald Shynett+, Jim Hall - Trombone; Barry Greene+, John Abercrombie, Corey Christiansen# - Guitar; Clay Perry - Piano; Mark Neuenschwander - Bass; Danny Gottlieb+, Dave Hardman - Drums; Beth Gottlieb - Percussion+; Tim Hagans - Trumpet; Mike Smith - Alto
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.