300

Dick Johnson: Star Dust & Beyond

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Dick Johnson: Star Dust & Beyond In 1983, when the "new Artie Shaw Orchestra was formed (Shaw had been out of the music business for nearly three decades), Boston-based clarinetist Dick Johnson was chosen to lead the band, which he has done to this day. After Shaw died in December of 2004, Johnson decided to record a tribute to his long-time friend and musical inspiration, but he vowed that it would be more than a sweet and sentimental stroll down memory lane.

Johnson put together a grade-A ensemble, enlisted the services of seasoned arrangers Bob Freedman and Jay Brandford, and leavened such timeless Shaw themes as "Stardust, "The Grabtown Grapple, "My Funny Valentine, "In the Still of the Night, "I Concentrate on You and "The Anniversary Song (smartly arranged by Sonny Burke) with more contemporary works by Blue Mitchell ("Fungii Mama ), Bill Evans ("Waltz for Debby ), Joe Ciavardone ("Moody Street ) and Johnson himself ("Bossa for Pam, "Pray Tell, Sarah, Where's Dan? ). Rounding out the amiable and thoroughly trendy program are the standards "Gone with the Wind, "My Romance and "When the Sun Comes Out.

Although Johnson is now in his 80s, there's no suggestion of that here; his creativity remains unimpaired and he plays with the passion and virility of someone half his age. Johnson solos often but leaves ample room for his younger colleagues to express themselves, which they do quite eloquently. Tenor saxophonist Matt Koza is featured on "Gone with the Wind, alto Dave Chapman on "Valentine, trumpeter Kerry McKillop on "My Romance, and there are cogent statements elsewhere by trombonists Chris Oberholtzer, Doug Elliott and Chris Dempsey, trumpeters Trent Austin and Phil Person, alto Sil D'Urbano, tenor Ed Harlow, guitarist Jon Wheatley and pianist Paul Odeh. Trumpeter Lou Colombo is a splendid guest soloist on "Stardust.

Even though some of the tunes are familiar, they shine anew in Freedman and Brandford's exemplary charts, while the ensemble gives each of them an earnest reading. Lead trumpeter Jay Daly is a standout, as are those in the orchestra's industrious rhythm section (Odeh, Wheatley, bassist Bronek Suchanek, drummer Mark Holovnia). Setting aside the knowledge that it is a "tribute, Star Dust and Beyond stands on its own as a sharp and swinging session that is sure to please anyone who gets a kick out of first-class big band jazz.

Track Listing: In the Still of the Night: Fungii Mama; Gone with the Wind; The Grabtown Grapple; Stardust; Moody Street; My Funny Valentine; Waltz for Debby; I Concentrate on You; Anniversary Song; Bossa for Pam; When the Sun Comes Out; My Romance; Pray Tell, Sarah, Where

Personnel: Dick Johnson: leader, clarinet; Robert Freedman: arranger (1-3,5-8,11,12,14), conductor (1-3,5-8,10-12,14); Jay Brandford: arranger, conductor (4,9,13); Jay Daly, Trent Austin, Phil Person, Kerry MacKillop: trumpet, flugelhorn; Lou Columbo: trumpet (5); Dave Chapman: alto sax, clarinet; Sil D

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Crazy Scot | Style: Big Band


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "2016" CD/LP/Track Review 2016
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Reliquia" CD/LP/Track Review Reliquia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "Nomad" CD/LP/Track Review Nomad
by Nick Davies
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Buoyancy" CD/LP/Track Review Buoyancy
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Habana Dreams" CD/LP/Track Review Habana Dreams
by James Nadal
Published: July 5, 2016
Read "In Love With" CD/LP/Track Review In Love With
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: July 25, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!