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Prolific Composer/Arranger David Angel Teams With Tuba Master Jim Self For Extraordinary 3-Disc Anthology, 'Out On The Coast'

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Superb, large ensemble jazz, always thoughtful and engaging... a brilliant companion for these long days at home.
—Marc Phillips, Part-Time Audiophile
David Angel Arranger
David Angel is one of the most respected composer/arrangers on the West Coast; however, he is virtually unknown to the general public. That is why tuba and bass trombone master Jim Self decided it was time to rectify that situation. He brought together The David Angel Jazz Ensemble to record Out On The Coast, a gorgeous three-disc anthology of Angel’s music.

Angel, a Los Angeles native, plays saxophones and clarinet. He played and wrote for Latin bands in his youth but was also attracted to classical music. He was especially influenced by the French Impressionists, particularly Debussy and Ravel. He was equally influenced by jazz artists, such as Duke Ellington, Jack Montrose}}, Gerry Mulligan, Marty Paich, Gil Evans, and Bill Holman. Angel is also a big fan of the West Coast jazz style. When he was 21 years old, he was writing orchestrations for the TV show Bonanza, which led to a long career as a composer and arranger for the television and film industries.

Angel is also an educator and was invited by the French cultural minister to teach at the Paris Conservatory, and he spent the ensuing decades teaching at conservatories in France and Switzerland. He recently gave lessons in composition and theory for The American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers (ASMAC) in Los Angeles.

Besides the wide admiration he has garnered for his writing, Angel is a soft-spoken, gentle person who is well-liked by everyone who works with him. That is why Bill Holman has called him “one of our brightest suns,” and orchestrator Brad Dechter has said, “David Angel is quite possibly the best composer you’ve never heard of and most definitely kindest soul you could ever meet.” He still writes every day.

The David Angel Jazz Ensemble grew out of the rehearsal band that Angel began in 1969. Over the years, the group featured many West Coast jazz giants, like Bill Perkins, Bob Cooper, Kim Richmond, Bob Brookmeyer, Bud Shank, Pete and Conte Condoli, Pete Christlieb, Art Pepper, and many others. Jim Self subbed with the band for many years until he became a permanent member several years ago.

Self has been one of the busiest musicians on the Southern California music scene. His list of credits is extensive. He has worked for all the major Hollywood studios since 1974, performing on over 1500 motion pictures and hundreds of television shows and albums. Self has worked with John Williams for over 25 years, and his playing can be heard on Jurassic Park, Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and Hook, and his horn was the voice of the mothership from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. His more recent film work includes Avatar, Tintin, Toy Story 3, Bridges of Spies and Star Wars 7, The Force Awakens.

Self’s work extends far beyond the film and television industry. He has also performed with Josh Groban, Cassandra Wilson, Claus Ogerman, Mel Torme, Leon Redbone, Weird Al Yankovich, Maynard Ferguson, Randy Newman, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, and Don Ellis. He also has an extensive career as a classical musician, holding the principal tuba positions with the Pacific Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and he was principal tuba/cimbasso in the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, which recently performed a two-year run of Wagner’s Ring Cycle and won a Grammy for Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Self has also released 18 albums as a leader, teaming up with the crème de la crème of West Coast players. In 2018, he was the cover story in International Musician, a publication of the American Federation of Musicians. He was also recently featured in the Legend of John Williams podcast, in which he discussed his 40 years in the music business.

Self’s deep admiration for Angel inspired him to record his music. Self says, “I’m really in awe of David’s talent. He pretty much composes everything in his head, and just writes it down using a pencil and paper. He doesn’t have any recordings, so I wanted to preserve his work as well as the work of the marvelous musicians in this ensemble, so I took it upon myself to produce this record.”

Angel’s current 13-member ensemble of top-notch players were more than happy to participate in this project. Recorded right before the pandemic hit, the band laid down all 22 tracks in just four days.

Out On The Coast features 15 original compositions by Angel and his arrangements of seven standards by Arthur Schwartz, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mandel, Jimmy Davis, Billy Strayhorn, Vernon Duke, and Harold Arlen. According to Self, “Although there are fourteen musicians on this album, we’re really an ensemble rather than a small big band. I call David’s music ‘Gil Evans meets JS Bach’ because he manages to combine the rich and complex harmonies of Evans with the polyphonic lines of Bach, while still leaving lots of space for improvisers to stretch out.”

Angel wrote so many great charts, it was difficult to narrow them down to fit on one disc, so he culled 22 tunes from his extensive oeuvre and burned them onto three discs. The music ranges from swinging to symphonic, from Latin-tinged to jazz waltzes to West Coast cool. It takes soloists of the caliber of John Chiodini, Gene Cipriano, Tom Peterson, Ron Stout, Jim Self, Phil Feather, Jim Quam, Bob Carr, Jonathan Dane, Stephanie O'Keefe, Scott Whitfield, Susan Quam, Paul Kreibich and David Angel himself to do justice to these dazzling arrangements.

Written over many years, the compositions and arrangements on Out On The Coast provide a very satisfying glimpse of the prolific output and brilliance of David Angel, who never sought out and has never received wide public recognition. This project should change that, and it’s about time. Out On The Coast will be available everywhere on February 19, 2021 on Basset Hound Music.

This story appears courtesy of Mouthpiece Music.
Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.

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