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Full Spectrum Jazz Big Band: Pursuits

Jim Santella By

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Based in California's Silicon Valley, the Full Spectrum Jazz Big Band enjoys a wide variety of music, from bebop to Latin Jazz, fusion and swing, playing with feeling. Featuring talented soloists who openly share their adventures, the band has many strengths. The musicians are cohesive and they balance each other well. The band's arrangements are designed to provide a mellow backdrop for soloing, however, so there's not a lot going on back there. The organization is just as proficient at putting up a shimmering wall of sound behind its swinging singer as it is flying a son montuno behind its Latin flavors.

Dave Brubeck's "Raggy Waltz features the program's best musical arrangement, and the band's trombone section gets into it with an old-fashioned battle royale. Again, the band's concept flows from its soloists; the rest is just accompaniment toward that focus. Trumpeters Roger Levinson and Dan Hallock trade phrases on "Night in Tunisia with fire in their eyes. The band's driving arrangement also features tenor saxophonist Chuck Wasekanes in a showcase aria, while drummer Carlos Almeida and timbalero Willie Garza add a vivid exchange.

Bob Florence's "Willowcrest provides an exciting outing for the band. Here, brass and saxophone sections challenge each other with virtual rocket attacks. Soloists Mike Humphrey (trombone) and Don Olivet (alto) balance this one quite well with soulful strides of their own. By getting the band's sections involved in a lively musical conversation, this arrangement displays the group's most favorable side.

Popular songs such as "Somewhere Out There and "So Many Stars prove uplifting, with soloists who prod with feeling. However, the band returns to its role of accompanist, leaving a large portion of these selections open to plain vanilla flavors that lack the zest of an enlightened big band arrangement.

Track Listing: Au Privave; No Persigas a las Mujeres (Don

Personnel: Roger Levinson, Dan Hallock, Todd Gray, Andy Scott: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gena Hassan: flute; Ruben Salcido: alto saxophone, flute; Don Olivet: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Paul Paternoster, Chuck Wasekanes: tenor saxophone; Jon Hassan: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Mike Humphrey, Bill Rhea, Doug Miner, Marc Eaman: trombone; Steve Barnhill: bass trombone; Walter Bankovitch: piano; Mike Cohen: guitar; John Pursel: electric bass; Carlos Almeida: drums; Willie Garza: percussion; Duane Lawrence: vocals.

Title: Pursuits | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Sea Breeze Jazz


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