Bandleader Elliot Deutsch has come up with a clever angle for his third CD, complete with obligatory red baseball cap and "Make Big Band Great Again" logo. Song titles are precocious too: "Fake News," "Repeal and Replace," "The Great Wall," sandwiched between "America the Beautiful" and an ambivalent ode to his Los Angeles home, "Pink Sunset (Over Gray Skies)." The problem arises with their length, which collectively totals roughly eighteen minutes. Given that (pardon the pun) shortcoming, the album could well be titled "Make Big Band Brief Again."
While Deutsch's stance may be delightful or distasteful, depending on one's partisan point of view, the finished product resembles a rush job, almost like "we have this great name for an album; let's write some music around it and hustle it into a studio." Not that the music itself is less than respectable; there's simply not enough of it to warrant an earnest endorsement. The album's five themes (four by Deutsch) coalesce as a suite with no breaks between them. "America the Beautiful" (1:03) is played as written, at a leisurely pace, by the full ensemble before the saxophones introduce the able-bodied, rock-leaning "Fake News" (with keen solo courtesy of trumpeter Mike Rocha). The robust, time-shifting "Repeal and Replace" showcases guitarist Will Brahm, "The Great Wall" (yet another scrappy chart) alto saxophonist Dan Kaneyuki. Trombonist Bob McChesney takes flight on "Pink Sunset," a smooth and calming counterweight to the clamor that has preceded it.
Appraising an album like this, whose heart may be in the right place but whose playing timeor, more precisely, whose lack thereofleaves much to be desired, isn't easy. Suffice to say the music is beyond reproach, as is Deutsch's seventeen-piece band. If eighteen minutes of generally agreeable big-band blowing in the guise of a full-length CD is acceptable, you'll find it here.
America the Beautiful; Fake News; Repeal and Replace; The Great Wall; Pink Sunset (Over Gray Skies).
Elliot Deutsch: leader, composer, arranger; Mitch Cooper: trumpet; Brandyn Phillips: trumpet; Chris Gray: trumpet; Mike Rocha: trumpet; Dan Kaneyuki: alto sax; Will Vargas: alto sax; Joe Santa Maria: tenor sax; Colin Kupka: tenor sax; Tim McKay: baritone sax; Bob McChesney: trombone; Erik Hughes: trombone; Sean Shackelford: trombone; Steve Hughes: bass trombone; Will Brahm: guitar; Scott Healy: piano; Brian Ward: bass; Greg Sadler: drums.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.