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File this one under: Swingin' NYC Big Band! Drummer, bandleader and composer Art Lillard has been leading versions of this organization over the past nineteen years and has produced in Reasons To Be Thankful an upbeat and impressive album that exposes several talented and underappreciated musicians in the Big Apple. The thirteen selections are all Lillard originals, save for one by guitarist Mark McCarron, who also contributes several fine guitar solos throughout the album.
Lillard also shows a good sense of balance by including several vocals throughout the course of this session, thus providing a well-rounded presentation. They include a nice job by jazz cabaret singer Mary Foster Conkllin on the Latinized "Nonchalant" and especially the Jon Hendricks-inspired work of Miles Griffith on two tracks. His vocal on "Swingin' The Blues Away," combined with Bob Mover's alto solo, is one of the album's highlights.
Lillard's sense of dynamics emerges with the opening "Bluez Organ Man," which has an overlay of Caribbean percussion. Altoist Bob Mover, whom I haven't heard from in decades, provides a solid contribtion on "The Fast Track," as does tenorist David Peterson on "Conclusion Jump." Lillard also gets some noted guest participation from pianists Mike Longo and Arturo O'Farrill.
Track Listing: Bluez Organ Man; The Fast Track; Swingin the Blues Away; Justice Waiting; Conclusion Jump;
Heavenly; Nonchalant; Incognito; Biznes Changes; Finding Our Own Way; You Cant Win
Blues; Dreamscape/Perfect World; Reasons to be Thankful.
Personnel: Art Lillard: drums, leader; Jan Leder, Jeff Schiller, Mauricio Smith, Jay Collins: flute; Kyle
Whelan: soprano saxophone; David Valdez: alto saxophone; David Peterson: tenor
saxophone; Justin Mullens, Erik Jekabson: trumpet; Michael Boschen, Phil Arnold: trombone;
Mark McCarron: guitar; Mike Longo, Arturo OFarrill: piano; Sean Smith, George Mitchell:
bass; Mary Foster Conklin, Cleve Douglass, Miles Griffith, Brook Lillard: vocals.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.