4

Florian Ross Big Company: Ties & Loose Ends

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The late pitcher Satchel Paige once offered this sound advice: "Never look over your shoulder; someone may be gaining on you." Nowadays, those who seem to be gaining the most ground when it comes to big-band jazz are Europeans and Asians who've been listening closely to and learning from their peers in the States and using that knowledge to build a better mouse trap, so to speak. Composer / arranger Florian Ross, based in Cologne, Germany, had been writing and filing away big-band charts for almost twenty years before he decided to record some of the best of them, assembling a group of young musicians from Cologne to form Big Company and release a superb debut album, Ties & Loose Ends.

There are several good reasons for that title, which Ross fully explains in the liner notes. And while he's no one-man band (seventeen others are involved), Ross not only wrote eight of the album's eleven numbers and arranged everything, he also chose the musicians, produced the album, mixed and mastered its various tracks, designed the jacket cover and took the photographs that are displayed inside and out. One assumes he also swept the studio and turned out the lights afterward. As Ross loves classical and popular music as well as jazz, he has augmented his own compositions with luminous arrangements of Maurice Ravel's graphic prelude to "Le Tombeau de Couperin," Modest Mussorgsky's tranquil "Une Larme" and Victor Young's elegant standard from the Great American Songbook, "My Foolish Heart."

Ross's themes are by and large "earnest contemporary," comparable to music being written these days by the likes of Maria Schneider, Dave Cavanagh, Darcy James Argue, Carla Bley, Kenny Werner, Dave Chisholm and others. Nothing is amiss until track nine, "Eleanor," on which Ross employs an amplified and distorted voice to undergird the ensemble and Phillip Bramswig's guitar. Well-meant, no doubt, but largely incoherent and thus pointless. Alas, Stefan Schmid's squawking tenor solo only adds to the confusion. Elsewhere, matters are far more balanced and agreeable, starting with Ross's "Doors Closed" and continuing through "Cycling," "Running Walls," "Prickly Pear," Meditation in D," "Slow Motian" and "Rosa Cantina." Each of those essays is rewarding, with perceptive solos along the way by Schmid, soprano Frank Vaganee (who leads the splendid Brussels Jazz Orchestra), alto Christoph Mockel, tenor Wolfgang Fuhr, baritone Marcus Bartelt, trumpeters Matthias Bergmann and Menzel Mutzke, trombonists Klaus Heidenreich and Peter Schwatlo, pianist Lucas Leidinger and bassist Dietmar Fuhr. The rhythm section is dependable, albeit slightly under-recorded at times.

When all is played and done, not a bad start for someone who waited more than forty years to record his first big-band album. Surely, Ross must have enough fresh charts set aside for another album (or more).

Track Listing: Doors Closed; Tombeau de Couperin: Prelude; Cycling; Une Larme; Running Walls; Prickly Pear; Meditation in D; Slow Motian; Eleanor; Rosa Canina; My Foolish Heart.

Personnel: Florian Ross: leader, composer, arranger; Jan Schneider: trumpet; Volker Deglmann: trumpet; Menzel Mutzke: trumpet; Matthias Bergmann: trumpet; Frank Vaganee:alto, soprano sax; Christoph Mockel: alto sax; Stefan Schmid: tenor sax, clarinet; Wolfgang Fuhr: tenor sax; Marcus Bartelt: baritone sax; Klaus Heidenreich: trombone; Peter Schwatio: trombone; Felix Fromm: trombone; Ingo Lahme: trombone; Phillip Bramswig: guitar; Lucas Leidinger: piano; Dietmar Fuhr: bass; Fabian Arends: drums.

Title: Ties & Loose Ends | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Fuhrwerk Musik

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Take Five With...
Album Reviews
Bailey's Bundles
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Swallows & Swans

Swallows & Swans

Toy Piano Records
2018

buy
Pigs & Fairies

Pigs & Fairies

Toy Piano Records
2017

buy
Lines & Crosscurrents

Lines & Crosscurrents

Toy Piano Records
2015

buy
Ties & Loose Ends

Ties & Loose Ends

Fuhrwerk Musik
2013

buy
Front Room Songs

Front Room Songs

Fuhrwerk Musik
2013

buy
Golightly

Golightly

Double Moon
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read New York Trio Album Reviews
New York Trio
By Troy Dostert
July 18, 2019
Read Invincible Nimbus Album Reviews
Invincible Nimbus
By Jerome Wilson
July 18, 2019
Read Syzygy Album Reviews
Syzygy
By Don Phipps
July 18, 2019
Read Visions Album Reviews
Visions
By Friedrich Kunzmann
July 18, 2019
Read Shafted Album Reviews
Shafted
By Edward Blanco
July 17, 2019
Read Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club
By Don Phipps
July 17, 2019
Read New Year Album Reviews
New Year
By Dan Bilawsky
July 17, 2019