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Having noted that four of its nine charts were written by Maria Schneider, I approached the newest album by the University of Toronto's superb 10 O'Clock Jazz Orchestra much as one looks forward to a vaccinationunpleasant, perhaps, but something that has to be done. But after listening to the opening measures of Schneider's "Lately, I half expected someone to stop the music and shout "April Fool! It's really Neal Hefti (or Sammy Nestico, Rob McConnell or Bob Florence)! Can this, I thought, truly be Maria Schneider? Well, there was her name, inscribed as composer/arranger. So I listened to the others"Alegresse, "The Willow, her arrangement of "The Days of Wine and Roses and lo and behold, they swung too! (albeit sporadically.) Ms. Schneider, IOU one apology. The evidence presented here is irrefutable; you really can swing after all!
That's only some of the good news on Rivers. The rest is that the UT Orchestra is invariably outstanding, as it was on its previous two-disc set, Off the Cuff (even though the personnel is almost entirely new); and director Paul Read has chosen exemplary material for the ensemble to perform, starting with Schneider's surprisingly persuasive charts and including a pair of splendid compositions by Jim McNeely ("Lickety Split, "305 ), Thad Jones' charming "Interloper, McConnell's stylish arrangement of Johnny Green/Ed Heyman's "Body and Soul, and last but not least, the smoothly undulating title selection, composed and arranged by one of Canada's brightest trumpeter stars, Mike Malone.
There's more scintillating news from the soloists, each of whom is awesome. Baritone Joseph Shabason is featured on "Lickety Split and "Willow, guitarist Kevin O'Donnell on "Body and Soul. Others who relish their chance to shine are pianist Chris Donnelly and trombonist James Mashinter ("Lately ); O'Donnell, trombonist Arjuna Satchithaninthan, and the "two Jareds," Greeve on flugel, Welsh on tenor ("Rivers ); tenor Trent Reschny and trumpeter Tristen Brown ("Allegresse ); alto Mark Laver and trombonist Steve McFarlane ("305 ); Donnelly and Reschny ("Interloper ); Welsh and soprano Alison Young ("Roses ). The rhythm section, superbly guided by drummer Colin Kingsmore and including O'Donnell, Donnelly and bassist Paul Clifford, is consistently impressive.
Another snazzy showcase for the UT Jazz Orchestra, enhanced by luminous sound and liberal playing time. And that says it all.
Track Listing: Lately; Rivers; Allegresse; Body and Soul; Lickety Split; 305; The Willow; Interloper; The Days of Wine and Roses (75:31).
Personnel: Paul Read: director; Nicole Rampersaud, Vincent Spilchuk, Tristen Brown, Jared Greeve,
Dan Gooch: trumpet; Mark Laver, Alison Young: alto sax; Trent Reschny, Jared Welsh: tenor
sax; Joseph Shabason: baritone sax; James Mashinter, Arjuna Satchithaninthan, Steve
McFarlane, Joel Green: trombone; Scott MacInnes: bass trombone; Kevin ODonnell: guitar;
Chris Donnelly: piano; Paul Clifford: bass; Colin Kingsmore: drums.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.