Having overseen one impressive Jazz Studies program, at Northeast (OK) State University in Tahlequah, Tommy Poole has moved on to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater where he seems well on the way to repeating that success. The subtitle of Solid Gold, the first recording under Poole's direction by the OSU Jazz Orchestra, reads "featuring Michael Dease." And "featuring" is no understatement here. Not only does the Grammy award-winning and DownBeat magazine Rising Star trombonist solo (superbly) on every number, Dease also wrote five of the album's eight selections. A solid day's work by any measure.
It's easy to see (or, more accurately, hear) why Dease has risen to the top ranks among contemporary jazz trombonists. He's an excellent technician (who obviously has listened to and learned from the late master Frank Rosolino, among others) who also swings in any framework. He's a splendid composer too, and his engaging themes are among the album's highlights. Poole makes a salutary impression with his lone entry, the muscular "Out Front" (introduced by the 'bone section), as does Brazilian legend Antonio Carlos Jobim with the gently swaying samba (or bossa) "Discussao." Dease, Poole and the ensemble wrap things up in barn-burning fashion with the venerable standard "After You've Gone" (a shame the eloquent tenor soloist is uncredited but that's Noah Mennengaunlisted among the personnel on trumpet, Charlie Chadwell on alto).
Dease authored the first three numbers, starting with the brisk and upbeat "You Dig?" (on which he shares solo honors with baritone Matt Floeter and trumpeter Kyle Hunt). "Solid Gold," an irrepressible charmer with nimble solos by Dease and Chadwell and strong support from drummer Matt Durkee, is followed by the graceful "Decisions," on which Dease solos with tenor Sydney Pointer (who could well be the mystery soloist on "After You've Gone"). Dease also wrote the sinuous "Gorgeous Gwen" and strapping "Good and Terrible" (solos on "Gwen" by bassist Mickey Webster, trumpeter Tyler Murray and trombonist Jacob Eyler, on "Terrible" by Durkee and pianist Dylan Shadoan).
The OSU ensemble is exemplary, the album's running time and recording quality more than acceptable. Add multi-talented Michael Dease to the mix, stir emphatically and the upshot is a tasty banquet that's sure to quicken the appetite of almost any champion of straight-ahead big-band jazz.
Track Listing: You Dig?; Solid Gold; Decisions; Out Front; Gorgeous Gwen; Discussao; Good and Terrible; After You’ve Gone.
Personnel: Tommy Poole: director; Ryan Hatcher: trumpet; Matt Herron: trumpet; Kevin Kamau: trumpet; Tyler Murray: trumpet; Noah Mennenga: trumpet (8); Charlie Chadwell: alto sax, flute; Ashley Krogstad: alto sax (1, 3, 5, 7); Marcos Alvarez: alto sax, flute (2, 4, 6, 8); Sydney Pointer: tenor sax, clarinet; Eric Stults, tenor sax, clarinet; Matthew Floeter: baritone sax (1-3, 5, 7, 8); Hayden Anderson: baritone sax, bass clarinet (4, 6); Jacob Eyler: trombone; Kyle Hunt: trombone; Paul Bussert: trombone; Dorien Tate: bass trombone; Dylan Shadoan: piano; Bradley Spears: guitar (6); Mickey Webster: bass; Matt Durkee: drums.
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