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Steve Fidyk Live Wire Broad Band: Red Beats

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Steve Fidyk Live Wire Broad Band: Red Beats
Would a big band by any other name swing as hard? That's really hard to say (pardon the pun) but is certainly true on Red Beats, an implacably swinging album deftly performed by drummer Steve Fidyk's fashionably named Live Wire Broad Band. Fidyk, who spent more than two decades keeping flawless time for the U.S. Army Blues and now serves as chair of the drum set department at the University of the Arts School of Music in Philadelphia, enlisted a number of his former armed service colleagues to lend a hand, which certainly didn't harm the ensemble's combat readiness.

Although Fidyk's former partner in swing with the Army Blues, arranger Mark Taylor, couldn't make the date, trumpeters Graham Breedlove, Kevin Burns, Tim Leahey and Tyler Mire are among the enlistees, as are saxophonist Joseph Henson, trombonist Harry Watters, pianist Chris Ziemba and others whose names aren't as readily familiar. Either Red Beats was recorded in more than one session or Fidyk assembled a really big band, as the personnel list numbers eleven trumpets, eight saxophones, nine trombones (no, not seventy-six), four guitars and four basses. The only players seated by themselves are Fidyk, Ziemba and organist Brian Charette.

The album itself consists of nine of Fidyk's multi-layered and high-powered compositions, scored by half a dozen first-class arrangers (or arrangers first-class). Trumpeter Leahey, who didn't solo nearly often enough with the Air Force's Airmen of Note, leads the parade on the bright and plain-spoken "Bebop Operations" and is superb, as is veteran tenor saxophonist and Steely Dan alum Walt Weiskopf. Leahey reappears with alto Henson on the fast-moving "Gaffe," Weiskopf with pianist Ziemba on the galvanic "Churn." The Broad Band assumes a funky persona on "The Flip Flopper" (solos by Charette and trombonist Kevin Cerovich) and is free-wheeling and focused on "Food Court Drifter," whose perceptive solos are by Charette, Henson and tenor Xavier Perez.

"Untimely" is yet another bustling flag-waver encasing incisive statements by Perez, Wilkins and trumpeter Andrew Carson to complement Fidyk's typically sharp and stalwart timekeeping. While not strictly a ballad, the easygoing "One for T.J." offers a pleasing change of pace, gliding smoothly ahead behind well-framed solos by Breedlove on flugelhorn and Chris Farr on soprano. Farr moves to tenor to team with Charette and guitarist Michael Kramer on the rough-hewn "Loopholes," which leads to the earnest, fast-paced finale, "Good Turns" (with emphatic solo turns by alto Henson, trombonist Watters, baritone Mark Allen and guitarists Wilkins and Jeff Barone). If indeed Fidyk had swing uppermost in his mind there is no cause for complaint, as the Live Wire Broad Band swings from stem to stern while carrying out its leader's fondest wishes and making Red Beats an especially desirable release.

Track Listing

Bebop Operations; The Flip Flopper; Untimely; Churn; Food Court Drifter; Gaffe; One for T.J.; Loopholes; Good Turns.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Luke Brandon, Graham Breedlove, Kevin Burns, Andrew Carson, Thomas Eby, Tamela Fidyk, Matt Gallagher, Chris Kaplan, Tim Leahey, Tyler Mire, Fareed Simpson-Hankins: trumpet; Mark Allen, Mike Cemprola, Chris Farr, Daniel Henson, Joseph Henson, Josh Lee, Xavier Perez, Walt Weiskopf: saxophone; Scott Blanke, Hailey Brinnel, Kevin Cerovich, Sam Gellerstein, Ian Kaufman, Jake Kraft, Randy Kapralick, Omeed Nyman, Harry Watters: trombone; Jeff Barone, Michael Kramer, Parris Spivey, Jack Wilkins: guitar; Brian Charette: organ; Christopher Ziemba: piano; Regan Brough, Micah Jones, Nathan Kawaller, Jack Synoski: bass.

Album information

Title: Red Beats | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Blue Canteen Music


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