The world-class Swiss Jazz Orchestra produced the 2-CD set Sincerely Yours to mark its tenth anniversary in 2013. As is the SJO's custom, the nineteen tracks were taped during a series of stellar concert performances spanning those years, showcasing the orchestra's excellence as a unit and its roster of impressive soloists performing compositions and arrangements by some of the brightest stars, past and present, in the jazz firmament. And even though the ensemble needs no help, a number of renowned guests stop by to add their sizable talents to the mix: alto saxophonist George Robert ("Missing You"), trumpeter Bert Joris and tenor Andy Scherrer ("Mr. Dodo"), vocalist Sandy Patton ("Lover Come Back to Me"), tenor Nicolas Masson ("Boomerang") and a couple of well-known Americans, tenor Jerry Bergonzi and alto Dick Oatts (Thad Jones' "Fingers").
Among the more popular jazz themes are those by Thelonious Monk ("Straight, No Chaser"), Herbie Hancock ("Maiden Voyage") and Sammy Nestico ("Have a Nice Day"). Bob Brookmeyer penned the delightful "Samba Con Getchu" and lyrical "Cameo," Dave Brubeck "Bossa Nova USA," Scott Henderson the forward-leaning "Dolemite." Maynard Ferguson and son-in-law Christian Jacob co-wrote the funky "Footpath Café." The orchestra opens Disc 1 with the standard "All of Me," arranged by Billy Byers for the Count Basie Orchestra. Other evergreens, all on Disc 2, are "Lover Come Back to Me," Henry Mancini's "Days of Wine and Roses" (arranged by Maria Schneider) and Hoagy Carmichael's enchanting "Skylark" (scored by Brookmeyer). Robert wrote "Missing You," Joris "Mr. Dodo," Masson "Boomerang." Thad Jones also composed the gospel-inflected "US" (featuring Marc Schodler's muscular baritone sax). Completing the program (Disc 2) is Jamie Silva / Neuza Teixiera's Brazilian (or Portuguese) charmer, "O Pato" (The Duck).
At risk of belaboring the point, it is worth reiterating that SJO's choice of material is superband as for the orchestra's soloists, it's hard to say enough good things about them, as every one is outstanding (even though Oatts and Bergonzi set the bar outrageously high on "Fingers"). Besides Schodler and the various guests, those given their own roadway to traverse include pianist Philip Henzi ("All of Me"), valve trombonist Stefan Schlegel ("Cameo"), alto Reto Suhner ("Skylark") and trombonist Andreas Tschopp ("Footpath Café"). Others who are no less persuasive include trumpeters Johannes Walter, Lukas Thoni, Thomas Knuchel and Daniel Woodtli, guitarists Nick Perrin and Nikolay Karageorgiev, soprano Adrian Pflugshaupt, alto Jorg Bucher, tenor Till Grunewald, trombonist Vincent Lachat and drummer Tobias Friedli.
Far more than an anniversary keepsake, Sincerely Yours is a consistently sharp and engaging survey of one of the world's foremost contemporary big bands, performing without a safety net over a span of nearly a decade. Sonics are generally excellent, playing times more than generous. Well worth seeking out.
CD 1 — Introlood; All of Me; Straight, No Chaser; Bossa Nova USA; Missing You; Maiden Voyage; Samba Con Getchu; US; Cameo; Mr. Dodo. CD 2 — Lover Come Back to Me; O Pato; Have a Nice Day; Footpath Café; Days of Wine and Roses; Boomerang; Skylark; Fingers; Dolemite.
(Collective) — Stephan Geiser: trumpet; David Blaser: trumpet; Johannes Walter: trumpet; Daniel Woodtli: trumpet; Lukas Thoni: trumpet; Thomas Knuchel: trumpet; Sandro Hasler: trumpet; Julian Hesse: trumpet; Linus Hunkeler: trumpet; Nolan Quinn: trumpet; Balthasar Steit: trumpet; Adrian Pflugshaupt: alto sax; Philip Stockli: alto sax; Jurg Bucher: alto, tenor sax; Reto Suhner: alto sax; Till Grunewald: tenor sax; Klaus Widmer: tenor sax; Daniel Durrer: baritone sax; Neta Noren: baritone sax; Marc Schodler: baritone sax; Reto Anneler, Florian Egli, Thomi Geiger, Cedric Gschwind, Rolf Hasler, Matthias Kohler, Dave Feusi, Simon Stirnimann, Corinne Windler: saxophones; Vincent Lachat: trombone; Rene Mosele: trombone; Stefan Schlegel: trombone; Samuel Blaser: trombone; Andreas Tschopp: trombone; Dirk Amrein: trombone; Lukas Briggen: trombone; Justin Clark: trombone; Dave Montreuil: trombone; Pavel Pisanko: trombone; Jan Schreiner: trombone; Nina Thoni: trombone; Adrian Weber: trombone; Maro Widmer: trombone; Lukas Wyss: trombone; Bernhard Bamert: trombone, bass trombone; Reto Zumstein: bass trombone; Philip Henzi: piano; Stefan Aeby: piano; Oliver Friedli: piano; Andy Harder: piano; Florian Favre: piano; Andreas Renggli: piano; Nick Perrin: guitar; Nikolay Karageorgiev: guitar; Marco Figini: guitar; Max Frankl: guitar; Fabio Pinto: guitar; Thomas Sauter: guitar; Lorenz Beyeler: bass; Wolfgang Zwiauer: electric bass; Antonio Schiavano: electric bass; Giorgos Antoniou: bass; Hans Ermel: bass; Andre Pousaz: bass; Christoph Utzinger: bass, percussion; Tobias Friedli: drums; Fabian Kuratli: drums; Rico Baumann: drums; Pius Baschnagel: drums; Christoph Mohler: drums; Peter Haas: drums; David Stauffacher: drums; Roland Wager: percussion; Michael Fink: percussion; Kaspar Hochuli: percussion; Marco Jeger: percussion; Raphael Ochsenbein: percussion; Martin Ruch: percussion; Jan Stehle: percussion. Special guests — Bert Joris: trumpet; George Robert: alto sax; Dick Oatts: alto sax; Andy Scherrer: tenor sax; Nicolas Masson: tenor sax; Jerry Bergonzi: tenor sax; Sandy Patton: vocal.