The first time woodwind artist Jeff Coffin heard Caleb Chapman's Crescent Super Band, he was greatly impressedso much so that he decided to record an album with the band. You may be impressed too, especially upon learning that the Super Band, which sounds for all the world like a professional (or advanced university) ensemble, is actually comprised of high school students whose ages range from fifteen to eighteen. And in spite of its New Orleans-sounding pedigree, the Super Band is not based at the mouth of the Mississippi River but up north in Mormon country, namely Utah, and is the flagship ensemble of Chapman's Soundhouse, an after-school music training program launched more than a decade ago.
Coffin, whose c.v. includes membership in such heavyweight groups as Bela Fleck's Flecktones and the Dave Matthews Band, seems perfectly at home performing with a group of virtuosic musicians whose average age is about one-third his own, soloing smartly on alto, tenor or baritone sax on eight numbers, and flute on Bob Washut's gentle tone poem, "As Light Through Leaves." Bassist Victor Wooten, one of several special guests, adds a seductive solo on "Leaves." Others who lend their sizable talents to the proceedings include trumpeters Randy Brecker ("Fruitcake"), Robertico Garcia ("Move Your Rug," "The Inside of the Outside") and Rashawn Ross ("The Mad Hatter Rides Again"), Trombone Shorty ("Bubble Up"), tenor saxophonist Branford Marsalis ("Tall and Lanky") and percussionists Juan "El Peje" Carlos Rojas, Dayron Rodriguez, Roy "Futureman" Wooten and Pedrito Martinez. The Super Band's able soloists are trumpeter Tyler Webb ("12th and Edgehill," "Tall and Lanky") and pianist Max Holm ("Sweet Magnolias").
The band itself leans toward funky phrasing and Latin rhythms including the brief (27-second) finale, "Cuban Percussion Outro," featuring Carlos Rojas on congas and Rodriguez on bongos. The stable of topnotch arrangers embodies Washut, Bret Zvacek, Ryan Middagh, Chris McDonald, David-Deacon Joyner and Tyler Mire. Coffin is a standout, but no more so than his precocious collaborators who play with a maturity and awareness well beyond their years. For that, due credit to Chapman who in 2011 (at age thirty-seven) was named John LaPorta International Jazz Educator of the year. Coffin's decision to record with Chapman's ensemble was not amiss; it's called a Super Band for good reason. And as a bonus, all proceeds from sales of the album will be used to support the National School of Music in Havana, Cuba.
Intro . . . Move Your Rug; The Inside of the Outside; The Mad Hatter Rides Again; Fruitcake; As Light Through Leaves; 12th and Edgehill; Bubble Up; Sweet Magnolias; Tall and Lanky; Cuban Percussion Outro.
Jeff Coffin: alto saxophone. Caleb Chapman Superband – Harrison Oyler: trumpet; Daniel Gummow: trumpet; Luca Rodoni: trumpet; Tyler Webb: trumpet; Alex Kariuki: trumpet; Amaya Bickmore, Josh Zabriski, Bryson Vanderwel, Spencer Walgren, Carter Madson: saxophones; Mick Simkins: trombone; Joseph Laudie: trombone (1, 2, 4-7, 9, 10); Parker Zollinger: trombone (3, 8); Almendra Vasquez: trombone (3-10); Yoandry Argudin Sandoval: trombone (1, 2); Peyton Wong: bass trombone; Hunter Bergman: guitar; Max Holm: piano (3-10); Clint Sudweeks: piano (1, 2); Peter Hanaman: bass; Colby Greenwood: drums, percussion; Caden Nichols: drums, percussion; Nathan Adair: tambourine (9). Special guests – Sam Cardon: Hammond B3 organ (9); Randy Brecker: trumpet (4); Robertico Garcia: trumpet (1, 2); Rashawn Ross: trumpet (3); Trombone Shorty: trombone (7); Branford Marsalis: tenor sax (9); Victor Wooten: electric bass (5); Juan "El Peje" Carlos Rojas: percussion (1, 10); Dayron Rodriguez: percussion (1, 10); Victor "Futureman" Wooten: percussion (2); Pedrito Martinez: percussion.