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Ever so often one comes across an album that sparkles all over, leaving quite an impression, and such is the case with this recording led by composer/arranger Phil Kelly. My Museum is a cleverly crafted album of sensational big band charts, featuring five original compositions wrapped around several classic jazz standards, making for a muscular performance by an elite world-class orchestra. Kelly is no stranger to leading prime-time big band performances; this recording is a followup to his previous Grammy-nominated big band album, Convergence Zone (Origin, 2003).
One major difference between this release and the previous is the band. The NW Prevailing Winds big band, comprised of the finest musicians in the Seattle area, delivered the last release, but this time Kelly surrounds himself with a lineup of all-stars from LA. The SW Santa Ana Winds band is an LA-based group of jazz luminaries, including Gary Foster (alto), Lanny Morgan (alto), Pete Christlieb (tenor), Brian Scanlon (tenor), Bill Ramsey (baritone), Wayne Bergeron (trumpet), Andy Martin and Chris Morillas (trombones), and Bill Cunliffe (piano).
The beautiful title tune is by far the exception here. This very nice, slow ballad contains the only vocals on the disc, provided by Greta Matassa, recorded with a full string section. The majority of the selections can be categorized as smoking! Setting the pace for the superlative big band charts that Kelly has put together, "Jennine, a fiery, red-hot number, opens up the album in a grand big band style. The band continues playing hard and tight on the famous Ellington/Strayhorn composition "Daydream, featuring standout solo performances by Bob Summers (trumpet) and Christlieb (tenor).
Almost all jazz fans are familiar with the Johnny Green/Heyman & Sour classic "Body and Soul, forever known as a tenor ballad ever since Coleman Hawkins recorded it in 1939. But this rendition features the raspy baritone of Bill Ramsey in the leadand it's one of the best versions I've ever heard. In fact, I still find myself clapping after every time I hear it. Kelly includes a bit of blues with "Bluelonius, a nine-minute original. Other exciting and notable scores include "Pleading Dim Cap, highlighting a sensational solo by tenor player Brian Scanlon, "It's A Lazy Afternoon, and the outlandish, upbeat "Zip Code 2005.
As big band recordings go, this is simply a superb session. The powerful jazzy winds that Phil Kelly has once again managed to harness are virtually guaranteed to blow you away.
Track Listing: Jeannine; Bluelonius; Pleading Dim Cap; Daydream; My Museum; Juan Beatov Stomp; Body & Soul; It's A Lazy Afternoon; Zip Code 2005.
Personnel: Phil Kelly: Director; Wayne Bergeron, Don Fornero, Pete De Sienna, Bob Summers, Jay
Thomas: trumpets/flugelhorn; Andy Martin, Charlie Morillas, Dave Ryan, Michael Millar:
trombones; Lanny Morgan, Gary Foster: alto saxophone; Pete Christlieb, Brian Scanlon:
tenor saxophone; Bill Ramsey: baritone saxophone; Bill Cunliffe: piano; Darin Clendenin:
piano (5); Grant Greissman: guitar; Tom Warrington: bass; Gerald Stockton: bass
(6), Clipper Anderson: bass (5); Steve Houghton: drums; Dan Wojciechowski:
drums (6);Brian Kilgore:percussion; Greta Matassa : vocals (5); Diane Kitzman,
Maria Schleuning, Sho-Mei Pelletier, Bing Wang, Dawn Stahler, Lauren Charbonneau,
Michelle De Shazo: violins; Tom Demer, Mitta Angell: violas; Peter Steffens, Mitch Maxwell:
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.