Pianist, bandleader George Gruntz names the various sections of his “Concert Jazz Band” after types of angels, as the liners allude to his personal sense of sanctification after all these years of performing and touring with an aggregate of jazz notables. With that and Gruntz’ seemingly cheerful persona, the title of his latest project - Merryteria once again conveys the bandleader’s bright outlook spoken through his contemporary and thoroughly hip arrangements!
Trombonist Dave Bargeron steers the band while imparting some hearty soloing on his rather jubilant composition titled “Mexicali”, where the musicians instill a sense of Latin celebration via rock solid rhythms and strong solos by trumpeter Scott Wendholt, tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, and others. Gruntz’ “Merryteria” boasts a bold and boisterous arrangement, offset by slightly dissonant choruses, punchy rhythms and a clever hook. Alto saxophonist and ex- Gil Evans’ band member Chris Hunter takes the helm and blows passionate, soulful lines on “Novgorod Bells”. Whereas, Donny McCaslin’s “2nd Line Story” features peppery, New Orleans style second line shuffle beats intermixed with rock/funk motifs as the horns accent the vivacious rhythms along with potent solos from trombonists Ray Anderson and Art Baron. Here, McCaslin puts matters into 5th gear with his husky toned tenor sax supplemented by a razor sharp and altogether fluid attack. The story line thus far equates to fun and excitement along with abundant soloing and the prolific horn charts.
George Gruntz’ shrewd sensibilities as an arranger come to the forefront on Merryteria. Throughout, Gruntz affords the soloists ample room to stretch their wares as the musicians build upon the often sprightly horn charts through cunning thematic invention, dynamics and sterling interplay that heightens the overall impact! Hence, Merryteria does indeed sustain an outward sense of merriment and also provides the listener with music that emanates from the heart yet might tend to prod one’s imagination while instilling a distinct sense of well-being............Recommended. * * * *
For personnel listings, contact information or to peruse the The Montreux Jazz Label catalogue, visit www.tcb.ch or email: [email protected] * While visiting the website, Merryteria and other recordings by George Gruntz can be located on the “Red Label” listings.
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