The University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble 1: Second Thoughts

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble 1: Second Thoughts I would love to hear critics of jazz education who argue that students are taught “by the numbers” and can’t grasp the finer points of the music try to explain away albums such as this one by the University of North Florida’s superb (and consistently swinging) Jazz Ensemble 1.

As if to prove those detractors wrong, the ensemble opens with (and decisively nails) a pair of elaborate original compositions by faculty member Barry Greene (“Pentangle”) and tenor saxophonist Brian VanArsdale (“The Beginning and the End”) before moving on to more conventional fare (“Tenderly,” “Angel Eyes,” “Love for Sale”), then veering off again into uncharted waters with VanArsdale’s “So Far,” Mulgrew Miller / Bill Mobley’s “Second Thoughts” and Bob Brookmeyer’s “Love Is a Feeling.” Thad Jones’ supernal ballad “A Child Is Born” precedes Wayne Shorter’s mercurial “Beyond All Limits” and the swaying, Kentonesque finale, Pete Rugolo’s “Machito.”

One thing that sets the UNF ensemble apart from others is its sharp and dynamic rhythm section, astutely led by drummer John Davis (one of the best I’ve heard at this level) and including pianist Heston Dean, guitarist Steve Lesche and rock-solid bassist Billy Thornton. Another is the large number of articulate soloists who do much more than merely pass the time. Alto saxophonist Brian Hagans is featured on “Pentangle,” trumpeter Dave Champagne on “Tenderly,” alto Kenny Hamilton on “Angel Eyes,” Dean and flugel Max Matzen on “A Child Is Born,” and there are cogent statements elsewhere by Lesche, Thornton, Davis, trombonists Clarence Hines and Robert Harrover, trumpeters Ray Callender and Jason Lichau and tenor Brendan Romaneck. VanArsdale is splendid on “Love for Sale” and “Limits,” but I could do without his over-the-top screeching on “The Beginning and the End.”

The ensemble never misses a cue or misreads a note, enabling Keith Javors to score a bulls- eye on his second album as director. When all is said and written, university-level ensembles simply don’t get much better than this, and I have no Second Thoughts about recommending the album to anyone who appreciates a well-endowed contemporary big band.

Contact: UNF Jazz Ensemble, 4567 St. John’s Bluff Road, Jacksonville, FL 32224. Phone 904-620-2961; web site, www.unfjazzensemble.com .

Track Listing: Pentangle; The Beginning and the End; Tenderly; Angel Eyes; Love for Sale; So Far; Second Thoughts; Love Is a Feeling; A Child Is Born; Beyond All Limits; Machito (64:19).

Personnel: Keith Javors, director; Kenny Hamilton, Brian Hogans, alto sax; Brian VanArsdale, Brendan Romaneck, tenor sax; Rodney Hampton, baritone sax; Jason Lichau, Dave Champagne, Max Matzen, Ray Callender, Abel Castillo (2, 3, 11), trumpet; Clarence Hines, Robert Harrover, John Leschitz, trombone; T.J. Collazo, Marcus McGill (3, 11), bass trombone; Heston Dean, piano; Steve Lesche, guitar; Billy Thornton, bass; John Davis, drums.

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: UNFJE | Style: Big Band


More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Sea Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Sea Changes
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 29, 2016
Read "Pineapples and Ashtrays" CD/LP/Track Review Pineapples and Ashtrays
by James Nadal
Published: May 8, 2016
Read "Storming Through the South" CD/LP/Track Review Storming Through the South
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "In Love With" CD/LP/Track Review In Love With
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: July 25, 2016
Read "Imagine That" CD/LP/Track Review Imagine That
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 30, 2016
Read "One: Detroit-Cleveland Trio" CD/LP/Track Review One: Detroit-Cleveland Trio
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!