Dan Pugach: Plus One

Jerome Wilson By

Sign in to view read count
Dan Pugach: Plus One
On this debut CD, drummer Dan Pugach shows himself to be a composer and arranger who has mastered the art of making a group sound much bigger than it is. His nonet plays intricate and soulful jazz with the punch of a much bigger band.

Pugach is very good at using brawny up-tempo rhythms. The CD's opener, "Brooklyn Blues" kicks off with a New Orleans second line groove that leads into a wall of shouting staccato horns driving through a jaunty arrangement out of the Thad Jones-Bob Brookmeyer school while "Belo's Bellow" works off of a funky rumba beat that provides a stimulating backdrop for Andrew Gould's soulful alto sax and Carmen Staaf's rolling electric piano. He also has a talent for ballad writing manifested in the intricate ensemble lines of "Coming Here" and the relaxed, plush urbanity of "Zelda." The former features haunting solos by Ingrid Jensen and Jeremy Powell while the latter is full of romantic flugelhorn playing by David Smith.

The CD's title, Plus One, refers to Pugach's wife, vocalist Nicole Zuraitis, who graces four tracks using various approaches. On Dolly Parton's "Jolene" she conveys a warm, folksy yearning and on Chick Corea's classic "Crystal Silence" she stands out with a precise classical soprano voice. Then she changes to a mood of breezy elegance on Ivan Lins' "Love Dance" and coos sassily like Peggy Lee on Pugach's original, "Our Blues," as the band slides into a hip blues groove worthy of Count Basie complete with wah-wah trombone, stuttering piano and shouting tenor.

The nonet is full of fine players who acquit themselves well but Pugach's drumming holds everything together. He's never really out front or overbearing but you can hear him keeping the rhythm firmly in place and, with bassist Tamir Shmerling, constantly working to move the band along. You really notice how well they mesh when they back Smith's trumpet solo on "Discourse This."

Pugach stays within mainstream big band parameters but his charts have energy and freshness. This is a very good first statement from someone who will, hopefully, create a lot more exciting jazz in the future.

Track Listing

Brooklyn Blues; Coming Here; Jolene; Zelda; Belo's Bellow; Crystal Silence; Love Dance; Our Blues; Discourse This


Ingrid Jensen (2,3,5,8), David Smith (1,4,6,7,9): trumpet; Mike Fahle: trombone; Jen Hinkle: bass trombone; Andrew Gould: alto saxophone, flute; Jeremy Powell: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Andrew Gutauskas: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Nicole Zuraitis (3,6,7,8): voice; Carmen Staaf (2,3,5,8), Jorn Swart (1,4,6,7,9): piano; Tamir Shmerling: bass; Bernardo Agular (5): pandeiro; Dan Pugach: drums.

Album information

Title: Plus One | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Unit Records

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Read Florida Rays
Florida Rays
Flying Horse Big Band
Read Keep On Turnin'
Keep On Turnin'
Stefan Braun & Mateusz Smoczynski
Read Out Of and Into
Out Of and Into
Joel Newton Situation
Read Future Stride
Future Stride
Emmet Cohen
Read Sarabande Blue
Sarabande Blue
Zvonimir Tot's Jazz Stringtet
Read The Dancer on the Hill
The Dancer on the Hill
Steffen Basho-Junghans

All About Jazz needs your support

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.