All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Westchester Jazz Orchestra: Maiden Voyage Suite

Nicholas F. Mondello By

Sign in to view read count
Imagine a painter, sculptor or writer attempting to recreate a masterpiece done by a Picasso, Michelangelo or Shakespeare. The task redefines challenge and chutzpah. While jazz recreations are more common than those in other arts—Clark Terry and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra's marvelous revisit (Americana Music, 2004) of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans' Porgy and Bess (Columbia, 1958), for example—little recreated music has equaled the excellence of its original source material better than the Westchester Jazz Orchestra's Maiden Voyage Suite.

In the mid-sixties, pianist Herbie Hancock recruited other members of the Miles Davis Quintet to deliver a concept recording of five elegantly textured pieces, all depicting tonal seascapes, Maiden Voyage (Blue Note, 1965). 36 years later, this group of New York's finest players has taken up Hancock's classic album, saluting to and expanding on the original, and ultimately displaying what is possible when great source material is enhanced by terrific arranger-composers and performed by outstanding musicians.

Vividly reminiscent of the Davis/Evans collaborations, the Thad Jones- Mel Lewis Orchestra, and the suites of Duke Ellington, writer-arrangers Mike Holober, Pete McGuinness, Jay Brandford and Tony Kadleck have created a multi-segment suite parlayed from Hancock's classic. These writers leverage Maiden Voyage's suspended chord undercurrent, the iconic three note call and five-note response patterns with startling creativity. Their intricate ensemble lines, lushly orchestrated backgrounds and soli segments demand, and get the most out of this talented group. And, when the embellished motifs appear, fade and return, they bring new light. Played as magnificently as done here, the result is epic.

Lead trumpeters Kadleck and Craig Johnson captain the group's superior ensemble playing and power the challenging material. The respective brass, woodwind and rhythm sections wail. Ted Rosenthal lends an Impressionistic piano touch and well-developed solo excursions. Harvie S' bass is a profound voice throughout, and drummer Andy Watson's time, percussive drive and nuanced cymbal work shimmers and glints.

Like the aforementioned Ellington band, this group frames stellar soloists. Trumpeters Marvin Stamm and Jim Rotondi swirl about, genuflecting at the altar of Freddie Hubbard—who was present on the original 1965 recording—while adding their own respective creative brilliance. Saxophonists Brandford, David Brandon, Jason Rigby and Ralph Lalama each extrapolate and offer up highly inventive and expressive ideas.

The oceans of the Earth spewed forth creation and beckoned Man's exploration. Maiden Voyage Suite by the Westchester Jazz Orchestra creatively honors Hancock's classic work and discovers new vistas of its own. It is both an exploration and a tsunami of excellence.

Track Listing: Prologue; Maiden Voyage; Eye of the Hurricane; Little One; Interlude; Survival of the Fittest, Part One; Survival of the Fittest, Part 2; Dolphin Dance; Epilogue.

Personnel: Jay Brandford: alto and soprano saxophones; David Brandon: alto and soprano saxophones; Ralph Lalama: tenor saxophone; Jason Rigby: tenor saxophone; Ed Xiques: baritone saxophone; Tony Kadleck: trumpet, flugelhorn; Craig Johnson: trumpet, flugelhorn; Marvin Stamm: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jim Rotundi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Larry Dean Farrell: trombone; Keith O'Quinn: trombone; Bruce Eiden: trombone; George Flynn: bass trombone; Ted Rosenthal: piano; Harvie S: bass; Andy Watson: drums; Mike Holober: artistic director and conductor.

Title: Maiden Voyage Suite | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: WJO


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Wherever You're Starting From CD/LP/Track Review
Wherever You're Starting From
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery CD/LP/Track Review
Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jerome Wilson
Published: March 21, 2018
Read From Silence to Somewhere CD/LP/Track Review
From Silence to Somewhere
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 21, 2018
Read Never Bet The Devil Your Head CD/LP/Track Review
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 21, 2018
Read The Questions CD/LP/Track Review
The Questions
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Meerkat Parade CD/LP/Track Review
Meerkat Parade
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "Love + Time + Divination" CD/LP/Track Review Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "Duality: Particles & Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Duality: Particles & Waves
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 16, 2017
Read "Second City" CD/LP/Track Review Second City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "Think Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Think Ahead
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Sun Ra Plays Gershwin" CD/LP/Track Review Sun Ra Plays Gershwin
by Chris May
Published: March 12, 2018
Read "Dreams of Belonging" CD/LP/Track Review Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018