221

The Long Beach Poly High School Jazz Ensemble A: Moving Right Along

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz education has not only reached many high schools in this country, it has lifted some of them to levels of excellence undreamed of only a few years ago. The kids are learning faster than ever, it seems, and if the pace continues it shouldn't be long before their expertise parallels that of college­level ensembles of a generation or two ago. The downside, of course, is that there are so few opportunities for up­and­coming Jazz musicians to hone their skills these days that no more than a handful may pursue that career beyond the classroom. On the other hand, those that don't choose to make music their livelihood may become lifelong fans and supporters of Jazz, and the world can certainly use more of them. There are times when listening to Moving Right Along, the second album by director Chris Stevens' exuberant Jazz Ensemble A at Long Beach Poly High School, when it's hard to believe that these young musicians are still in high school, so well do they play together. Of course, there are other times - especially during improvised passages - when youth and lack of seasoning become readily apparent. On balance, however, the students acquit themselves extremely well, showing a splendid grasp of Jazz fundamentals and a technical proficiency that belies their years. In other words, Stevens had them ready for the studio and there are no evident signs of uneasiness or trepidation. The ensemble opens by acing an arduous assignment, the Bob Florence arrangement of Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar," before coming to grips with Arturo Sandoval's buoyant "Rhythm of Our World" and producing another winning performance. Flugel Adam Bhatia is a standout, as are drummer Casey Gillett and percussionist Sarah Ostlund. Tenor Robert Conrad is featured on Sammy Nestico's ballad, "Nicole," Bill Liston's crackling "Payday Be Good" and (with alto Colin Honigman and trumpeters Nick Steele and Alex Swanson) on Gerry Schroeder's funky "Steeley Shuffle." Tom Kubis arranged "Shuffle" and wrote the rock ballad "Is It You," on which alto Ryan Dennis plays with warmth and sensitivity. Trombonist Shawn Van Valkenburgh is the soloist on Neal Finn's tasteful samba, "A Little Miracle Please," Dennis, Ostlund (on vibes), Gillett, pianist Renee Baldridge and bassist Melissa Jones on Finn's Oliver Nelson­like "Yuppieville Rodeo" (on which the reed section's usually admirable grade­point average takes a merciless thrashing). Scott Lavender's sassy "Chicken Lips" precedes the unexpected but no less welcome finale, Kubis's colorful arrangement of the carol "Here We Come a Wassailing!" Passing grades all around with extra credit for Conrad, Dennis, Bhatia, Ostlund and Van Vankenburgh and an earnest salute to everyone in the ensemble for a job well done.

Contact:Conrad / Jazz CD, Poly Jazz Program, 4770 Obispo Avenue, Lakewood, CA 90712­3320. Web site, www.lbpolymusic.com

Track Listing: Sugar; Rhythm of Our World; Nicole; Steeley Shuffle; A Little Miracle Please; Payday Be Good; Is It You; Yuppiesville Rodeo; Chicken Lips; Here We Come a Wassailing! (50:27).

Personnel: Chris Stevens, director; Ryan Dennis, Colin Honigman, alto sax; Robert Conrad, Cliff Baldridge, tenor sax; Madeline Gilbertson, Adrienne Bosler, baritone sax; Robyn Javier, Shawn Van Valkenburgh, Robin Young, Keith Meier, trombone; Steve Pedersen, Nicholas Steele, Adam Bhatia, Alex Swanson, trumpet; Anaiah Bournes, Renee Baldridge, keyboards; Trevor O'Neill, guitar; Melissa Jones, Georgia Taylor, bass; Casey Gillett, drums; Sarah Ostlund, percussion.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: LBPHS | Style: Big Band


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read Neko CD/LP/Track Review Neko
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 25, 2017
Read Alcanza CD/LP/Track Review Alcanza
by Troy Dostert
Published: May 25, 2017
Read New Life CD/LP/Track Review New Life
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 25, 2017
Read A Social Call CD/LP/Track Review A Social Call
by James Nadal
Published: May 25, 2017
Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Innri" CD/LP/Track Review Innri
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2016
Read "Energy - Saul Losada" CD/LP/Track Review Energy - Saul Losada
by Paul Naser
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review Horizonte
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 31, 2017
Read "In Praise of Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review In Praise of Shadows
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "The Book of Transfigurations" CD/LP/Track Review The Book of Transfigurations
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Dancing Our Way To Death" CD/LP/Track Review Dancing Our Way To Death
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 16, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!