by Rob Wood
The arranger of music scores is as important as a crankshaft in an engine. Yet many are destined to live in the shadows. Ralph Carmichael was subsumed by the luster of Stan Kenton. Arranger Paul Riser, who wrote the opening bars to Dancing in the Street," is a virtual unknown. And then there is Gary Urwin. Urwin escaped the dilemma of obscurity by, as he says, modestly giving my name to the orchestra." Fortunately, for him, the Gary ...read more
by Jack Bowers
Sometimes, just when it seems things couldn't possibly get any better, they do. That is certainly the case with A Beautiful Friendship, the spectacular new recording by arranger Gary Urwin's superlative southern California-based Jazz Orchestra. Having released three earlier albums showcasing the exceptional artistry of tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb and / or trombonist Bill Watrous, Urwin has upped the ante and pulled out all the stops on this one, not only re-enlisting Christlieb and Watrous for a consistently pleasing encore ...read more
by Todd S. Jenkins
The liner notes tout this band as a veritable who's who among the Los Angeles area's most accomplished studio and big-band artists." That's quite true, which is precisely why Kindred Spirits falls a bit flat. It shares much of its personnel with most every other white big band project in Southern California, which makes it essentially sound like every other white big band project in Southern California.
LA is afflicted with this studio-band syndrome, wherein just about anyone who styles ...read more
by Jim Santella
With special guests Bill Watrous and Pete Christlieb on board, this big band session really smokes. Gary Urwin's third CD recording puts both guests in the spotlight alongside the band's capable roster of Los Angeles all-stars.
The frequent musical conversations between Watrous and Christlieb (trading fours) gives Kindred Spirits a beautiful luster. Their sleek, smooth and playful antics provide the kind of animation that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Urwin's keen arrangements provide ample space ...read more
by Jack Bowers
When I'm listening to a big band album for the first time, the grin factor usually comes into play. The wider the smile, the greater the excitement and pleasure. As Gary Urwin's smoking arrangement of Lester Young's Lester Leaps In sprang through the headphones, I was grinning from ear to ear, and the smile seldom slackened through the whole of Urwin's latest recording, Kindred Spirits--in spite of the fact that the overall balance, as is true of so many big-band ...read more
by Jack Bowers
When one releases a debut album as impressive as Gary Urwin's Perspectives, the question then becomes, 'What can you do for an encore?' What Urwin has done is exceed everyone's expectations -- perhaps even his own -- with Living in the Moment, a breathtaking follow-up session that bristles with energy, intelligence and class.
Once again, Urwin leads an all-star ensemble of Southern California's most accomplished sidemen through a wide-ranging program of striking standards and outstanding originals including four ...read more
by Dave Nathan
A native of Toledo, OH, now residing in LA, with a day job as an attorney, Gary Urwin has fulfilled a dream of taking a big band into a recording studio. And big it is, with 24 pieces in tow. With increasing interest in big bands these days, it behooves a newcomer to offer something different to find a niche. Urwin accomplishes this by, first, offering an enticing play list of 14 tunes with a balanced mix of good, solid ...read more