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Minimal Effort, maximal results. This is presumably the first album by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Jazz Ensemble 1, and the basic question that arises is, where have these guys been hiding? It's past time they made their presence known, which they do with gusto for director Paul Haar on this dazzling and well-designed studio date.
After opening with Steve Wiest's flashy, fusion-driven "Gotham City, the ensemble nails Clare Fischer's "The Duke, earns "Extra Credit from Jim McNeely, revisits the Swing Era via Glenn Miller's venerable "Moonlight Serenade (splendidly updated by Jack Cooper), lays bare Eric Richards' "Hidden Agenda and works tenaciously through Jeff Richmond's "Minimal Effort before closing with Vance Thompson's playful blues, "Martha Stewart Ain't Got Nothin' on My Baby.
The recorded sound is excellent, which is advantageous, as brass and reeds are invariably strong and supple, the rhythm section unflagging, and special care has been given to shading and dynamics. Soloists more than hold their own; soprano Elizabeth Love is a particular standout on her feature, "Hidden Agenda. She switches to alto to solo alongside pianist Nelson Neves, tenor Chris Barrick and trumpeter Paul Krueger on "Moonlight Serenade, while Krueger, Neves and trombonist Tommy van den Berg bare their chops on "The Duke. Neves, van den Berg, Krueger and Barrick are spotlighted on "Credit, the last three on "Minimal Effort. Faculty members Darryl White (trumpet), Tom Larson (piano), Peter Bouffard (guitar) and Rusty White (bass) display their prowess on "Martha Stewart.
In a brief liner note, Frank Tirro, a UNL grad and former dean of the Yale University School of Music, writes that this is "swinging jazz from the heartland, and that sums it up quite neatly. An exemplary debut by Professor Haar and his troupe of dauntless undergrads. Let's hope there is more to be heard from the land of Lincoln.
Track Listing: Gotham City; The Duke; Extra Credit; Moonlight Serenade; Hidden Agenda; Minimal Effort; Martha Stewart Ainít Got Nothiní on My Baby (48:14).
Personnel: Paul Haar: director; Jeff Richmond, Brendan McGlynn, Tom Salistean, Paul Krueger: trumpet; Elizabeth Love, Mary Huntimer: alto sax; Christopher Barrick, Zak Pischnotte: tenor sax; Tom Speers: baritone sax; Andrew Binkard, Tommy van den Berg, Kevin Haines: trombone; Paul Ahlemeyer: bass trombone; Nelson Neves: piano; Jared Bader: guitar; Danny Firestone: bass; David Hall: drums.
Year Released: 2006
| Record Label: Self Produced
| Style: Big Band