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San Jose Jazz Festival Big Band: Temperature Rising: Suite for Jazz Orchestra

Jack Bowers By

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A few years ago the San Jose Jazz Festival commissioned composer/educator/trombonist Dave Eshelman to write a Jazz suite as a “musical accolade” to that California city, and Temperature Rising is the result of that mandate. As there are no other selections on the CD, the running time is only 28:55 (the first two minutes of which comprise a spoken introduction by Pete Fallico). The 27–minute suite itself is superb, with its four movements depicting the bustle of downtown; paying tribute to Mayor Susan Hammer (“The Rose of the Rose Garden”) for her untiring support of the arts in San Jose; describing the excitement and electricity of “the capital of Silicon Valley,” and saluting the city’s refreshing multicultularism with the “Samba de San Jose.” Eshelman brought together a stellar ensemble to play the music including a number of enterprising soloists including alto Mary Fettig, trumpeter Chuck MacKinnon (“Metro”); pianist Smith Dobson, tenor Bennett Friedman, trumpeter Steve Campos (“Silicon Shuffle”); guitarist Tim Volpicella, flugel Bill Resch, flutist Paul Contos, drummer Alan Hall (“Samba de San Jose”) and Eshelman himself with vocalist Sarah Schweppe (“Rose of the Rose Garden”). What is perhaps most striking is the wonderful assortment of tempo and timbre expressed within the suite’s various movements, from blazer to ballad, shuffle to samba. Everything hangs together like a well–framed tapestry, making it abundantly clear that the Festival directors made the proper choice when they tapped Eshelman as its composer. If one can get past its meager playing time, a laudable addition to the big–band library.

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