To help enliven the first recording by his NYConfidential Big Band, trumpeter Forrest Buchtel assembled an A-list of the city's busiest sidemen and handed them a dozen charts by Grammy Award-winning composer/arranger Gary Anderson. Needless to say, it's a productive alliance.
With two exceptions (more about them in a moment), the studio session consists of openly explicit, albeit staunchly contemporary themes, spotlessly performed by Buchtel's seasoned eighteen-member ensemble. The departures are "California Bells, wherein electronic gimmickry is employed to garnish Anderson's meaty tenor saxophone, and "Parade, on which Buchtel's flugel is bolstered by the (mythical?) East River Gamelon Orchestra and West Bank Drum and Bugel [sic] Corps.
Although Anderson's tunes won't linger long in the memory, they are as a rule bright and harmonious, and it's hard to envision their being performed any better than this. With Dave Stahl playing lead trumpet and John Riley at the drum kit, everyone has his "cue card in hand, and absolutely nothing falls through the cracks. There are handsome showcases for trumpeters Tony Kadleck ("Saudade ) and Clay Jenkins ("Drew's Brew ), pianist Richard Sussman ("Silencio ), baritone Gary Smulyan ("Indian Bathhouse ) and Buchtel (flugel on "New York Confidential ). Buchtel and the trumpet section share the honors on "Chatroom, while the title track is a sporty vehicle for Buchtel, alto Dick Oatts, trombonist Birch Johnson and bassist Ron McClure. The album closes strongly with the carefree "Headlines, where Jenkins and Sussman share center stage.
In spite of the album's wordless counsel, listeners may find it difficult to remain silent once they've heard Buchtel's ensemble jump-start Anderson's splendid arrangements. And once the word is out, the consensus should be that the music speaks for itself.
Track Listing: Forrest Stranger; New York Confidential; Bass Desires; California Bells; ChatRoom; Saudade; Drew
Personnel: Gary Anderson: composer, arranger, conductor, tenor sax (4); Forrest Buchtel: leader,
trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Stahl, Greg Gisbert, Tony Kadleck, Glenn Drewes: trumpet; Clay
Jenkins: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dick Oatts, Dave Pietro: alto, soprano sax, flute; Billy Drewes:
tenor, soprano sax; Sal Spicola: tenor sax, bass clarinet; Gary Smulyan: baritone sax; Jim
Pugh, Birch Johnson, Dave Bargeron: trombone; David Taylor: bass trombone; Richard
Sussman: piano; Ron McClure, Mark Egan (4): bass; John Riley, Dave Ratajczak (4): drums;
Terry Silverlight (4): snare drum.