Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

The Mica Bethea Big Band: Suite Theory

Jerome Wilson By

Sign in to view read count
In 2005 Mica Bethea was studying music at the University of Northern Florida when he was involved in a serious traffic accident that left him a quadriplegic. That ended his being able to play any musical instruments so instead he threw his energies into learning composition and arrangement. He has released two previous albums of music by his big band but this one contains his most autobiographical work, a suite dealing with his life before and after the accident.

Despite the potentially grim subject matter there is no real feeling of tragedy or sadness in this music. Bethea writes hard-swinging charts that burst with life and optimism. The opening section, "Crystal Clear," about his life before paralysis, has a particularly carefree, strolling sound. The frisky melody bounces from section to section and there are several bubbly solos laid down along the way by trumpeter Ray Callendar, trombonist Michael Dease and saxophonist Juan Carlos Rollan. The closest thing to a melancholy mood in the set comes on "Destiny's Boat," a slow ballad that has wary, minor key harmonies reminiscent of Quincy Jones' and Oliver Nelson's soundtrack work, and a gently ascending guitar and sax melody line. The piece also features billowing guitar octaves by James Hogan and a rich and thoughtful tenor sax solo by Todd DelGuidice.

"Meniscus" displays a surging massed sound worked into dancing Cuban rhythms laced with electric piano that again shows Bethea's ability to use brass and reed interplay effectively and gives Joshua Bowlus a chance to work out on the Fender Rhodes. "Guardian Of Forever" injects Bethea's affection for both the grooving and spacey sides of Herbie Hancock's 70's music with a combination of wah- wahing electric piano and intricate but funky horn riffs that give off an outer space vibe worthy of a vintage Star Trek episode. The composition also makes room for Daniel Dickinson's lyrical soprano sax solo and Hogan blazing on cranked up rock guitar. That is the end of the suite but the CD ends with an alternate take of "Destiny's Boat" featuring a second tenor solo by Todd DelGuidice that has a sharper, more virtuostic edge than the one on the main take.

This CD further shows that Mica Bethea is a talented big band composer who is shaping a distinctive identity. This suite, telling his personal story of perseverance and gratitude at being alive and able to create, contains some of his best and most original work to date.

Track Listing: Crystal Clear; Destiny's Boat; Meniscus; Guardian Of Forever; Destiny's Boat (alternate take).

Personnel: Greg Balut, Dave Champagne, Daniel Rollan, Ray Callendar: trumpet; Michael Dease, Diego Herrada "de la Vega" Ventura, Lance Reed: trombone; Gina "Badeeduh" Benalcazar: bass trombone; Todd DelGiudice: alto sax, tenor sax, soprano sax, flute; Daniel Dickinson: alto sax, soprano sax, flute; Juan Carlos Rollan: tenor sax, alto sax, flute; Jose Rojas: tenor sax, alto sax, clarinet; Seth Ebersole: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Josh Bowlus: piano, Fender Rhodes; James Hogan: guitar; Dennis Marks: bass; John Lumpkin Jr: drums; Terry "Doc" Handy, percussion.

Title: Suite Theory | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Suite Theory

Suite Theory

Self Produced
2018

buy
Stage 'n' Studio

Stage 'n' Studio

Self Produced
2017

buy
Stage 'n Studio Discs

Stage 'n Studio Discs

Self Produced
2017

buy
Stage 'n Stash

Stage 'n Stash

Self Produced
2017

buy
Stage 'N Studio

Stage 'N Studio

Self Produced
2017

buy
Mica Bethea Big Band

Mica Bethea Big Band

Self Produced
2011

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Bulería Brooklyniana Album Reviews
Bulería Brooklyniana
By Dan Bilawsky
January 23, 2019
Read At The Hill Of James Magee Album Reviews
At The Hill Of James Magee
By Mark Corroto
January 23, 2019
Read Stomping Off From Greenwood Album Reviews
Stomping Off From Greenwood
By Mike Jurkovic
January 23, 2019
Read Live: The Rites of Spring Festival 2018 Album Reviews
Live: The Rites of Spring Festival 2018
By Roger Weisman
January 23, 2019
Read Runner in the Rain Album Reviews
Runner in the Rain
By Jack Bowers
January 22, 2019
Read Driftglass Album Reviews
Driftglass
By Chris May
January 22, 2019
Read Pure Magic Album Reviews
Pure Magic
By Mark Sullivan
January 22, 2019