Composer Andy Farber writes musical scores for television commercials and movies, but This Could Be The Start of Something Big is Farber's big band debut, showcasing his talents as a multi-reed musician and bandleader. Recorded in late 2009, after a two-year stint playing every Sunday evenings at New York's famed Birdland, the album features an eighteen-piece orchestra with legendary vocalist Jon Hendricks and veteran alto saxophonist Jerry Dodgion as special guests. Providing all of the arrangements, Farber produces an explosive brassy sound in a traditional big band album that incorporates elements of old-time swing.
The ensemble begins to swing on the very first piece, "Bombers," penned by the leader in tribute to Count Basie, and continues on the following "Space Suit," a new arrangement of an old 1990 Farber composition. The saxophonist dares to tackle the immortal "Body and Soul," and fares better than most, with a tender burnished tenor solo befitting this classic standard. The swing returns on the title piece, performed in grand big band style, with fire from the brass and perky vocals from Hendricks and the Jon Hendricks & Co. Singers.
Hendricks makes his other vocal appearance on "Roll' em Pete," moving and shaking the chart with some spicy scatting and lively lyrics. With all of the swing found on the disc, Farber does find time to include a softer ballad-like number on "Midnight, the Stars & You," featuring a splendid trumpet solo from Irv Grossman, Farber on flute and a post-recorded vibraphone overdub from Mark Sherman. Alto saxophonist Jay Brandford and trumpeter Kenny Rampton provide the fireworks on the Thelonious Monk tune, "52nd Street Theme," while Farber's brief "Short Yarn" delivers a gorgeous melody on a piece sure to be spun often.
The music continues with a fast-paced rendition of the George and Ira Gershwin song "The Man I Love," offering the last flute solo from the leader as the repertoire starts to wind down with the Mel Brooks original from the 1977 movie High Anxiety, "Jack the Bellboy" and closes with the Loeb/Lombardo composition, "Seems Like Old Times." Producing a swinging big band sound reminiscent of the Duke Ellington and Count Basie bands of the past, Andy Farber and his Orchestra certainly makes a powerful big band statement with This Could Be the Start of Something Big, an appropriate title for such a striking debut.
Bombers; Space Suit; Body and Soul; This Could be the Start of Something Big; It Is What It Is; Broadway; Roll 'em Pete; Midnight, the Stars and You; 52nd Street Theme; Short Yarn; The Man I Love; High Anxiety; Jack the Bellboy; Seems Like Old Times.
Andy Farber: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute; Chuck Wilson: alto saxophone; Jay Brandford: alto saxophone; Dan Block: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Marc Phaneuf: tenor saxophone; Kurt Bacher: baritone saxophone; Brian Paresi; Bob Grillo: guitar; Kenny Ascher: piano; Jennifer Vincent: bass; Alvester Garnett: drums; Mark Sherman: vibraphone (8); Jon Hendricks: vocals (4, 7); John Hendricks & Co Singers (4, 7): Aria Hendricks, Kevin Fitzgerald Burke; Jerry Dodgion: alto saxophone (6).
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