There is indeed some “nice work” on this new release by the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra, thanks largely to the DRJO’s world–class stature as a working big band and the imposing talents of chief conductor Jim McNeely whose sharp and swinging arrangement of the Gershwin brothers’ “Nice Work If You Can Get It” was Grammy–nominated this year. Also from the Gershwins comes “. . .and Rhythm” (“I Got Rhythm”) which opens with a brief reminder of “Rhapsody in Blue” and includes emphatic solos by every member of the rhythm section, the insertion in mid–stream of snippets from a number of rhythmically strong bop classics, and exuberant hand–clapping by the band in support of drummer Jonas Johansen before Henrik Bolberg Pedersen’s muted trumpet leads to the subdued coda. McNeely wrote and arranged everything else except the placid “Moksha,” which was composed / arranged by tenor saxophonist Tomas Franck. Franck, an articulate post–bop champion, solos with guitarist Anders “Chico” Lindvall and bassist Thomas Oveson on “Moksha,” with Johansen and trombonist Vincent Nilsson on McNeely’s turbulent “Rough Night” and with Pedersen (flugel) on “Nice Work.” Lindvall is heard again on the pensive “Reflection,” Oveson and tenor Uffe Markussen on “Pete’s Feet,” pianist Nikolaj Berntzon and flugel Thomas Fryland on “Syretha’s Gift,” written by McNeely for one of his students “who has a wondrous insight into the spirit and soul of music” — a quality that one may reasonably suggest is shared by McNeely himself who seems to have found an agreeable “home away from home” with the DRJO. NIce work, gentlemen.
Track Listing: Pete
Personnel: Jim McNeely, conductor, composer, arranger, piano (