Percussionist and big band leader Michael Waldrop has had a very successful relationship with composer Dr. Jack Cooper, late of the University of Memphis, Berlin, and parts unknown. Waldrop attended the University of Memphis for his master's degree (helming Cooper's Jazz Orchestra of the Delta) before completing his doctorate at the University of North Texas. Their previous big band collaboration, Time Within Itself Origin, 2015) was received with favorable reviews at All About Jazz. This was Waldrop's debut recording leading a big band and he meant to make a big impression.
On the present Origin Suite the two again join composing forces for the progressive three-part suite. "La Jungla" features synthesized vocals, and outstanding electric guitar solo by Jimi Tunnell and some expansive elastic bass playing by Jeff Plant. "Nativite" presents with a welcoming melody accented by Waldrop's tart vibes playing. The closing suite movement, "Al Final de la Noche" features more complex vibraphone playing from the leader. Percussion driven, the suite deftly incorporates all elements of modern big band in shifting times and tempos among harmony of great invention. Cooper contributes the additional composition "Sheath and Sword" while also accepting arrangement duties for Waldrop's "Ivana" and "Belgrade." Drs. Waldrop and Cooper have put together an impressive book of compositions and arrangements that beg for what they might do next. It will be exciting.
Track Listing: The Origin Suite (La Jungla / Nativite / Al Final de la Noche); Through the Mist; Sheath and Sword; Ivana; Mouzon; Doo Dat Tang; Belgrade; Vasconcelos; Doppler Effect; Still Life.
Personnel: The Michael Waldrop Big Band (1-3, 5, 6, 8) – Michael Waldrop: leader, composer, arranger, drums, vibraphone; Jack Cooper: composer, arranger; Keith Jourdan: trumpet; David Spencer: trumpet; Larry Spencer: trumpet; Mike Steinel: trumpet; Will Campbell, Tim Ishii, Mario Cruz, Chris McGuire, Paul Baker: woodwinds; Anthony Williams: trombone; Tony Baker: trombone; Greg Waits: trombone; John Wasson: trombone; Steve Snyder: piano, organ; Jim Tunnell: guitar (1-3); Noel Johnstone: guitar (5, 6, 8); Jeff Plant: electric guitar (1-3); Lynn Seaton: acoustic bass (5, 6, 8); Jose Rossy: percussion; Marc Secara: vocals (1-3, 5); Jimi Tunnell: vocals (1-3). Track 4 – John Hansen: piano; Chris Symer: bass; Brad Dutz: tablas, percussion; Michael Waldrop: drums. Track 7 – Mario Cruz: tenor sax; Jimi Tunnell: guitar, vocal; Scott Kinsey: synth; Jeff Plant: bass; Michael Waldrop: drums; Jose Rossy: percussion. Track 9 – Travis Ranney: alto, soprano sax; Richard Cole: tenor, baritone sax; Dan Marcus: trombone; Brad Allison: trumpet; John Hansen: piano; Brian Monroney: guitar; Scott Steed: bass; Michael Waldrop: drums, percussion; Brad Dutz: percussion. Track 10 – Larry Panella: flute; John Hansen: piano; Scott Steed: bass; Michael Waldrop: drums; Brad Dutz: percussion. Track 11 – Travis Ranney: alto sax; Richard Cole: tenor sax; Stephan Friel: tenor, baritone sax; Keith Jourdan: trumpet; Scott Whitfield: trombone; Brian Monroney: guitar; Rick White: electric bass; Barry Aiken: keyboards; Michael Waldrop: drums, congas, added keys. Track 12 – Michael Waldrop: vibraphone; Wayne Peet: piano; Joel Hamilton: bass; Brad Dutz: percussion.
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