Enthusiasts of big band jazz have known for some time now that California is the Mecca of big bands, spawning more large orchestras than any place else in the world. The Full Spectrum Jazz Big Band is an 18-piece large ensemble based in the San Francisco Bay area and composed of a hybrid of high-tech sidemen from the Silicon Valley and professionals from the music industry. Pursuits happens to be FSJBB's third album marking the tenth anniversary of the group's formation.
Led by guest music director Jon Palacio, Jr., FSJBB delivers an engaging performance with fresh new interpretations of many well known standard tunes surrounded by a primarily Latin jazz theme. The music director provides the first taste of Latin rhythms with his composition of the nine minute plus "No Persigas A Las Mujeres (Don't Go Chasing The Women). Alto saxophonist Ruben Salcido continues the theme with his own "Suenos (Dreaming) capturing one beautiful Latin jazz ballad featuring solos by Salcido and Andy Scott on flugelhorn.
Suenos is followed by an Afro-Cuban rhythm version of the classic Kerns/ Fields popular "The Way You Look Tonight, with vocals provided by Duane Lawrence on another shoulder-moving number. The music does change colors on new arrangements of old charts like Charlie Parker's "Au Privave and Fredrick Lowe's "Almost Like Being In Love, voiced by Lawrence in a terrific big band number showcasing a fine tenor solo from Chuck Wasakanes.
The band goes a bit funky on the tune "This Is Not Here, containing sharp chords by guitarist Mike Cohen. Vocalist Lawrence takes on one of Sergio Mendes's greatest Brazilian Bossa composition in "So Many Stars, complete with a lush alto solo from Salcido in a very romantic big band arrangement. Other sensational tracks include the Bob Florence composition and arrangement of the fast and furious hip "Willowcrest, and the blistering finale of Dizzy Gillespie's masterful "Night In Tunisia.
As a connoisseur of big band jazz music, I am fortunate to be able to sample some, but not all, of the best big band recordings around and feel confident enough in appraising Pursuits to state unequivocally that this swinging big band release measures quite favorably with performance from the best of the elite California jazz orchestras. The Full Spectrum Jazz Big Band delivers a riveting and impressive big band sound.
Track Listing: Au Privave; No Persigas A Las Mujeres (Don't Go Chasing The Women); Almost Like Being In Love; Raggy Waltz; Suenos(Dreaming); The Way You Look Tonight; This Is Not Here; Somewhere Out There; So Many Stars; Willocrest; Night In Tunisia.
Personnel: Jon Palacio,Jr.: guest musical director; Roger Levinson: trumpet; Dan Hallock: trumpet; Todd Gray: trumpet; Andy Scott: trumpet; Ruben Salcido: alto saxophone, flute; Don Olivet: alto and soprano saxophone, Paul Paternoster: tenor saxophone; Chuck Wasekanes: tenor saxophone, Jon Hassan: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, Gene Hassan: flute (8, 9); Mike Humphrey: trombone; Bill Rhea: trombone; Doug Miner: trombone; Steve Barnhill: trombone; Marc Eaman: trombone (5, 6, 9); Walter Bankovich: piano; Mike Cohen: guitar; John Pursel: bass; Carlos Almeida: drums; Willie Garza: percussion (2, 5, 6, 9, 10).