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Mt. Hood Jazz Band & Combo 2006: My Foolish Heart

Jim Santella By

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Located just outside of Portland, Oregon in the shadow of Mount Hood, Mt. Hood Community College offers courses in jazz improvisation, music theory, harmony, and ear training. Then, there's the course that everybody wants to spend a few years with: jazz ensemble.

For quite some time now, the school has been able to boast about its superb jazz ensemble. This is the group's third album in two years. Director Susie Jones sure knows how to get the most from her students, bringing in arrangements that recall the Count Basie Orchestra in its heyday and relying on superb solo improvisation from her star pupils.

The school's smaller Winter "Green Combo, a sextet with two saxophones, guitar and a rhythm section, interprets the pianist's "Isn't It Prime? with clarity and a strong sense of swing. The pared-down ensemble romps hard with its impression of a late-night gig at some exotic social port of call.

Sammy Nestico's "88 Basie Street brings out the best from the band. The piano leads the way, along with walking bass, ride cymbal, rhythm guitar, and sectional statements that tell a story. Through the band's interpretation, you can feel Count Basie's musical conversation hanging over the room.

Astor Piazzolla's "Libertango features accordion with big band in a rare display of partnership between musical formats. The band brings out the best from this adventurous piece; the accordion rivets our attention with its easygoing drive. The full band pours out its best action and an excellent display of camaraderie.

My Foolish Heart provides a heartfelt plea from the entire organization, while most of the program grooves comfortably along avenues that swing and sway to the motion of adventurous big band jazz. The session benefits from suitable arranging, as well as from exceptional soloing—particularly from pianist Andrew Washburn, baritone saxophonist Billy Gaechter, guitarist Michael Backus, bassist Dave Speranza and tenor saxophonist Sam Solano.


Track Listing: Basso Urnesto; Stellar; Li

Personnel: Dave Coyle: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet; Gideon Hawkins: alto saxophone, clarinet; Sam Solano: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet; Charles Holton: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Billy Gaechter: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Wes Luttrell, Eli Fisher, Dustin Williams, Michael Kurtz, Sergey Bogza: trumpet; Josh Bennett, Matt Hutson, Chris Traylor, Alex Cook: trombone; Andrew Washburn: piano; Michael Backus: guitar; Dave Speranza; bass; Evan Guilford: drums; Brian Sprague, Sam Henry: drums, percussion.

Title: My Foolish Heart | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Sea Breeze Vista


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