221

Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra: Sight Readin', Baby!

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra: Sight Readin', Baby! Remember those boisterous, heavy–swinging in–concert albums from the late ’50s–early ’60s by the Terry Gibbs Dream Band? I was reminded of them while listening to Sight Readin’, Baby! by Vaughn Wiester’s Columbus, Ohio–based Famous Jazz Orchestra. Not that Wiester’s cobbled–together orchestra is as talented (or even as famous) as Terry’s (not many bands can outclass such sidemen as Richie Kamuca, Bill Perkins, Jack Nimitz, Al Porcino, Conte Candoli, Stu Williamson, Frank Rosolino, Mel Lewis and the others in Gibbs’ ensemble), but the same loose and playful spirit envelops this session, recorded last year during one (or more) of the band’s regular Monday evening gigs at the Columbus Music Hall. On the evidence presented here, one fact about the Famous Jazz Orchestra can be stated with assurance, and that is that everyone definitely comes to play. Addressing the album’s “colorful” title, Wiester says, “The volume of the [orchestra’s] book coupled with the constant rotation of personnel means that in any given set there’s at least someone who’s sight–reading from time to time, if not the whole band!” Well, if one or more members of the band are sight–reading on this session, they’re doing one helluva good job, as there aren’t many potholes in the road (even though the reed section seems rather stiff and unsure of itself on Dick Cone’s “Swing Easy”). With due respect to the luminaries mentioned above, Wiester’s orchestra has several capable soloists of its own including pianist Mark Flugge, trumpeters Kim Pensyl and Tim Perdue, tenors Jay Miglia and Andrew Waters, trombonists Matt Ellis and John Hall, baritone Mark Donavan and guitarist Jeff Ludwig. Drummer Matt Crouse is sharp and steady (Rick Brunetto sits in on “All or Nothing at All”), bassist Jeremy Laukhof never less than impressive. The band’s library is an agreeable blend of standards, originals (one of the best of which is Al Waslohn’s lusty “Hungover Square”) and Jazz evergreens (“Giant Steps,” “Moten Swing”). There are three vocals, by Kelly McLennan ("The Song Is You"), Dwight Lenox ("All or Nothing at All") and Lisa Clark ("Out of This World"), which approaches our threshold of tolerance for a big-band recording. As if to make up for it, the orchestra closes the set with one of our favorite big-band charts, Bill Holman's wonderful arrangement of Benny Goodman / Chick Webb / Edgar Sampson's "Stompin' at the Savoy" (on which tenor Miglia even sounds a bit like former Kenton mainstay Bill Trujillo) — a wonderful way to end a robust and admirable debut album. Cognizant of the many problems, financial and otherwise, that plague any big-band recording, we'll even overlook its modest 47:54 playing time. Wiester's orchestra may not be "famous" yet, but a few more albums on the order of this one and it could be.

Contact:Vaughn Wiester, 2253 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43201; phone 614–299–3756. The CD is available for $15 which includes the cost of shipping.


Track Listing: Hungover Square; Coisa #10; The Song Is You; Giant Steps; Surfboard; It

Personnel: Vaughn Wiester, leader; Brian Coon, Art Silva, Jay Miglia, Andrew Waters, Mark Donavan, saxes; Erik Gimbel, Larry McWilliams, Kim Pensyl, Tim Perdue, Edwin Santiago, trumpets; Chris Cromley, Matt Ellis, John Hall, Bill England, trombones; Kie Watkins, tuba; Sarah Brown, Natalie Porreca, horns; Mark Flugge, piano; Jeff Ludwig, guitar; Jeremy Laukhuf, bass; Matt Crouse, Rick Brunetto (

Title: Sight Readin', Baby! | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: FJO


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Fractured Pop" CD/LP/Track Review Fractured Pop
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 20, 2017
Read "Cactus" CD/LP/Track Review Cactus
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "Poetry For The Beat Generation" CD/LP/Track Review Poetry For The Beat Generation
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "Fly or Die" CD/LP/Track Review Fly or Die
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "ScratchBop" CD/LP/Track Review ScratchBop
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Live In New York" CD/LP/Track Review Live In New York
by John Sharpe
Published: October 4, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.