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Any way you slice it, it's not easy for a big band to earn a Grammy Award nomination. Composer/arranger Chris Walden's debut album, Home of My Heart, received not one but two, for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Instrumental Arrangement. One year later, Walden returns with another strong contender, No Bounds, showcasing eleven of his exemplary charts performed by an all-star ensemble of Los Angeles-area studio/big band musicians.
Walden, who is originally from Germany, is buoyed on this new recording by the guest artistry of fellow countrymen Till Brönner, Frank Chastenier and Martin Tillman. Brönner's burnished trumpet is featured on his own enchanting ballad, "Clax's Theme, Chastenier's charming piano on Walden's "No Bounds, Tillman's electric cello on the leader's thematic "Otterkam. Walden also wrote "In the Doghouse and "Try Harder and arranged every number. The lively opener, "Winter Games, composed by David Foster for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Italy, reserves space for romping solos by tenor Brandon Fields and drummer Ray Brinker.
Vocal star Tierney Sutton, paying a return visit (she sang once on Home of My Heart), is heard to good advantage on "Smile and "People Will Say We're in Love. Alto Kim Richmond is the headliner on "When You Wish Upon a Star, pianist Alan Steinberger on "Someday My Prince Will Come (in delightful waltz time), from the Disney films Pinocchio and Snow White, respectively. "Try Harder and "It's a Small World After All are the album's requisite flag-wavers, the former featuring baritone Tom Peterson, trumpeter Kye Palmer and drummer Gregg Field, the latter trombonist Alex Iles and trumpeter Carl Saunders. Walden (flugel), Steinberg and alto Jeff Driskill deliver playful solos on the dynamic "Doghouse.
Those who appreciated Home of My Heartand based on its reception, their numbers are sizableare certain to embrace No Bounds, as should anyone who admires resourceful, well-designed big band jazz.
Track Listing: Winter Games; When You Wish Upon a Star; No Bounds; People Will Say Weíre in Love; Claxís Theme; In the Doghouse; Try Harder; Smile; Someday My Prince Will Come; Otterkam; Itís A Small World After All (55:16).
Personnel: Chris Walden: composer, arranger, conductor, drum synth programming; Wayne Bergeron,
Kye Palmer, Ron King, Carl Saunders, Kevin Richardson, Till BrŲnner: trumpet; Jeff Driskill,
Kim Richmond, Rob Lockart, Brandon Fields, Tom Peterson: reeds; Bob McChesney, Andy
Martin, Alex Iles, Arturo Velasco, Rich Bullock: trombone; Alan Steinberger, Frank
Chastenier: piano; M.B. Gordy: vibes, percussion; Brian Monroney: guitar; Ken Wild: bass;
Ray Brinker, Gregg Field: drums; Tierney Sutton: vocals; Gayle Levant: harp; Steve Becknell,
Dan Kelley, Brian OíConnor, Phillip Yao: French horn; Bruce Dukow, Jackie Brand, Roberto
Cani, Tammy Hatwan, Pat Johnson, Jennifer Levin, Josefina Vergara, Marina Manukian, Sid
Page, Katia Popov, Marc Sazer, Kevin Connolly, Alan Grunfeld, Roger Wilkie, Tereza
Stanislav, Helen Nightengale: violin; Brian Dembow, Matt Funes, Keith Greene, Darrin
McCann, Thomas Diener, Roland Kato: viola; Steve Erdody, Trevor Handy, Andrew
Shulman, Dane Little, Larry Corbett, Kim Scholes: cello; Martin Tillman: electric cello; Ken
Wild, Mike Valerio, Ian Walker: contrabass.