6

The Ted Howe Jazz Orchestra: Pinnacle

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
The Ted Howe Jazz Orchestra: Pinnacle
Pianist Ted Howe offered up one of the finest of Duke Ellington tributes, the piano trio set titled simply Ellington (Summit Records, 2005). It was a heartfelt ride through some of The Duke's most familiar tunes, swinging mightily. He now steps up into Ellington-ian ensemble territory with Pinnacle, by his thirteen piece Ted Howe Jazz Orchestra.

In the old "is it classical, is it jazz?" discussion, Pinnacle definitely leans classical—but it does swing. Opening with "Presto for Two Trombones," Howe's arrangment sounds less like Ellington and more like those of trombonist J.J.Johnson on his work with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on Perceptions (Verve, 1961), brassy and magisterial before it breaks into a deep groove. Trombonists Andy Martin and Francisco Torres rip it up on their solos, and bassist John Patitucci sears his solo while his rhythm mates, guitarist Dan Baraszu and keyboardist Geoff Haydon, give the piece a ringing modernity, with a Latin tinge injected by percussionist Jose "Bam Bam" Ramirez.

"Impromptu for Trumpet" is another grand, sweeping statement, a showcase for horn man Lester Walker, who plays a beautiful lead around the harmonic gusts of the orchestra.

Howe centerpieces the CD with "Suite #1 for Jazz Orchestra." The piece is comprised of three six minute movement: "Movement 1" an airy landscape that brightens out of a gray murk like a sunrise, with electric undercurrents from guitar and rhodes keyboard. "Movement 2" contains some of set's most gorgeous harmonies, one of Ellington's greatest strengths, and we could mention Maria Schneider in this context, too, for comparison—working, again, a light/dark dynamic. Ellington is evoked on "Movement 3," with trumpeter Lester Walker coming to the front again, growling around a Cotton Club plunger mute. Swing is king here, with drummer Marlon Patton's muscularity driving the music forward. A beautiful, masterfully constructed and arranged suite.

The eleven minute "Adagio for Piano" gives pianist Ted Howe a chance to step out on his instrument, with a spare, melancholy solo intro, two minutes of ruminative beauty, joined then by a gentle burst of bass and drums, followed by the orchestra's sound seeping up out of the flooring to create a resplendent, sweeping panorama, an ebb and flow of brass and reeds shot through with Howe's inspired pianism.

The closer, "Jazz Etude for Three Clarinets" brings back an Ellington mood, with jungle drums pounding behind the wailing, snaky reeds, an exciting and upbeat wrap-up for an extraordinary orchestra jazz set.

Track Listing

Presto for Two Trombones; Impromptu for Trumpet; Suite #1 for Jazz Orchestra (Movement 1 / Movement 2 / Movement 3); Adagio for Piano; Jazz Etude for Three Clarinets.

Personnel

Ted Howe: leader, composer, arranger, piano (2, 6); Mike Barry: trumpet, flugelhorn; Lester Walker: trumpet, flugelhorn; Melvin Jones: trumpet, flugelhorn; Sam Skelton: flute, clarinet, Eb clarinet, soprano, alto sax; Don Erdman: clarinet, tenor sax; Seth Kuehn: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Wes Funderburk: trombone; Tom Gibson: trombone; Andy Martin: trombone (1); Francisco Torres: trombone (1); Geoff Hayden: piano, Fender Rhodes (1, 3-5, 7); Dan Baraszu: acoustic, electric guitar; John Patitucci: acoustic, electric bass; Marlon Patton: drums; Jose “Bam Bam” Ramirez: percussion.

Album information

Title: Pinnacle | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Hot Shoe Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus
Ikue Mori / Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura
Read Time OutTakes
Time OutTakes
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Read In Baltimore
In Baltimore
The George Coleman Quintet

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.