All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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

CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
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

Related Articles

Read Rumah Batu CD/LP/Track Review
Rumah Batu
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 17, 2018
Read The Bat Swings! CD/LP/Track Review
The Bat Swings!
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 17, 2018
Read Terrestrial CD/LP/Track Review
Terrestrial
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 17, 2018
Read Get Somethin' CD/LP/Track Review
Get Somethin'
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 17, 2018
Read Bansangu Orchestra CD/LP/Track Review
Bansangu Orchestra
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 17, 2018
Read Smart Grid CD/LP/Track Review
Smart Grid
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 16, 2018
Read "Bismuth" CD/LP/Track Review Bismuth
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 29, 2017
Read "You / Me" CD/LP/Track Review You / Me
by John Eyles
Published: January 9, 2018
Read "Icaros" CD/LP/Track Review Icaros
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: February 28, 2018
Read "Mission Cimbalom" CD/LP/Track Review Mission Cimbalom
by Geannine Reid
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Whispers And Cries" CD/LP/Track Review Whispers And Cries
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "ORCASTRATUM" CD/LP/Track Review ORCASTRATUM
by Kevin Press
Published: June 16, 2018