Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

15

Rick Hirsch's Big Ol' Band: Pocono Git-Down

Edward Blanco By

Sign in to view read count
A native of State College, PA and long-time fixture in the small cities, college towns and regional area jazz scene, saxophonist and educator Rick Hirsch sought to promote and celebrate this overlooked part of the musical community by drawing out twenty of his favorite small-town musician-friends and record in the Pocono Mountains. The result, the audacious and swinging Pocono Git-Down big band album of a gritty and powerful orchestral sound from a group of professional players that one may not be familiar with, otherwise known as Rick Hirsch's Big Ol' Band.

Bolting right out of the starting gate is the raucous high-powered "Giddyup!" with tenor saxophonist Greg Johnson and trombonist Jim McF alls on featured solos riding a brassy attack by the band on one of the liveliest pieces of the set. With drummer Kevin Lowe leading on the introduction, the title-track is cut in the same mold as another blistering burner featuring trombonist Jay Vonada, trumpeter Eddie Severn and pianist Steve Rudolph providing the solos. Though brief but beautiful, "Tonight, We Tango" showcases Hirsch on the tenor with guest appearance from Alex Meixner on the accordion as the group delivers a very spicy and hot Latin number that's designed to move the shoulders and shake the legs.

The music finally settles down on the slow, but delicate Eric Clapton ballad of "Wonderful Tonight" highlighting Rudolph with gorgeous piano lines before the rest of the band weighs in lightly. The beat begins to pick up a bit after beginning warmly on "The Old Chief's Lookout" when the brass kicks in featuring McFalls on the left trombone, Vonada on the right trombone and Greg Johnson delivering stellar solo phrases on the soprano supported mightily by the rest of the band.

The leader takes center stage on the buoyant "Metroliner" as the group gears up for another Latin-tinged sizzler on "Mambo Over the Mountain" containing an anticipated percussive flair featuring the drummer and Bob Velez on percussion as well as sparkling saxophone salvos from altoist Kate Anderson and tenor man Pete Barenbregge for one of the finest pieces of the album.

Closing the recording is a terrific rendition of Michael Jackson's classic "The Way You Make Me Feel," highlighting several members of the band on solo moments putting a temporary cap on an explosive session of big band jazz. Kudos to Rick Hirsch and his very able Big Ol' Band for producing a sensational and exciting big band recording that deserves serious attention. For anyone who questions whether big band music is alive or dying, look to the hills of Pennsylvania, find Rick Hirsch for the answer.

Pocono Git-Down

Track Listing: Giddyup!; Pocono Git-Down; Tonight, We Tango; Wonderful Tonight; The Old Chief's Lookout; Metroliner; The Witching Hour; Mambo Over The Mountain; The Way You Make Me Feel.

Personnel: Rick Hirsch: tenor saxophone; Tim Powell: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Kate Anderson: alto saxophone; Greg Johnson: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Pete Barenbregge: tenor saxophone; Oliver Fairley: baritone saxophone; Eddie Severn: trumpet, flugelhorn; Brent Turney: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dale Orris: trumpet, flugelhorn; Barry Long: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jim McFalls: lead trombone; Dan Weiner: trombone; Jay Vonada: trombone; Wes Thompson: bass trombone; Steve Rudolph: piano, keyboards; Tim Breon: guitar; Jeff Beck: electric bass; Kevin Lowe: drums; Bob Velez: percussion; Alex Meixner: accordion; Agatha Wang: piano (7); James Witherite: Hammond B3, Piano (8), Nord (1).

Title: Pocono Git-Down | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Bulería Brooklyniana Album Reviews
Bulería Brooklyniana
By Dan Bilawsky
January 23, 2019
Read At The Hill Of James Magee Album Reviews
At The Hill Of James Magee
By Mark Corroto
January 23, 2019
Read Stomping Off From Greenwood Album Reviews
Stomping Off From Greenwood
By Mike Jurkovic
January 23, 2019
Read Live: The Rites of Spring Festival 2018 Album Reviews
Live: The Rites of Spring Festival 2018
By Roger Weisman
January 23, 2019
Read Runner in the Rain Album Reviews
Runner in the Rain
By Jack Bowers
January 22, 2019
Read Driftglass Album Reviews
Driftglass
By Chris May
January 22, 2019
Read Pure Magic Album Reviews
Pure Magic
By Mark Sullivan
January 22, 2019