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Kris Berg - The Metroplexity Big Band: Time Management

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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In his liner notes, Dallas-based composer, arranger and bassist Kris Berg takes a good-natured poke at his less-than-stellar skills of the titled kind. While that may or may not be an accurate depiction, this superb recording certainly demonstrates that he and his Metroplexity Jazz Orchestra possess enormous and very admirable musical attributes.

With Time Management, bassist Berg has once again gathered this stellar crew of Big D's best and sets them to cut loose on a series of wonderfully arranged and ultimately impeccably performed charts. The recording, a follow-up to the band's well-received first, This Time/Last Year (Summit Records, 2012) has all the makings of (and is) a winner—intriguing grooves with rhythmic and textural surprises, screaming brass, drum-tight ensemble playing and highly stylized solos that shine. And, with some very well-known names making the session, the intensity and performance level hits the heights.

Berg's terrific charts are more classic than revolutionary—he's more Sammy Nestico and Thad Jones than time-warper Don Ellis, even though the title track moves smoothly across time sigs. His pen spews neat melodic and rhythmic lines and the ensemble steps up to the plate and consistently homers. A generous leader, Berg offers every one of the many soloists the opportunity to deliver. L.A. studio great, trumpeter Wayne Bergeron along with drummer Stockton Helbing (both alums of Maynard Ferguson's band, as is guest Denis Di Blasio) take the group to a higher level of swing and tightness. And, Phil Woods's alto feature on the very noir "Lifelong Friends" is a knockout.

To his credit, Berg's arrangements are never over-arranged or too complex, but, rest assured that there's plenty here that pushes the band's envelope. While Berg might be time management deficient, this recording reaffirms his well-earned status as an outstanding arranger/composer/bassist and his terrific ensemble's rep as a high-energy, swinging, and just-as-Phat-as-they-come unit.

Track Listing: School of Thought; Squiggly; Yesterdays; Narnian Dance; Time Management; Kelsier; Lifelong Friends; One Block Off Easy Street; The Chicken.

Personnel: Micah Bell, Ken Edwards, Thomas Eby (2,5,6,7,8,9), Tyler Mire (2,9), Pete Clagett (5,8), Keith Jourdan (6,7), Lorenzo Trujillo (1,3,4), Wayne Bergeron (1,3,4), Clay Jenkins (1,3,4): trumpets; Tim McMillen (1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9), Simon Willats (1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9), Aaron Rader (1,3,4,7,8), A.G. Robeson (1,2,3,4,9), Milas Yoes (2,6,9), Michael Burgess (7,8), Nick Laufer (5), Carl Lundgren (5), Alex dubrov (5), Matt Jefferson (5), Aric Schneller (6): trombones; Bruce Bohnstengel: alto sax, soprano sax, flute; Sarah Roberts: alto sax, flute (1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9); Brian Clancy: tenor saxophone (1,3,4,6); Brian Gorrell: tenor saxophone (2,5,6,7,8,9); Kevin McNerney: baritone saxophone; Pete Gallio: tenor saxophone (1,3,4); Shelley Carroll: tenor saxophone (2,9); Jeff Robbins: tenor saxophone (7,8); Alan Burton: tenor saxophone (5); Denis DiBlasio: baritone saxophone (8); Phil Woods: alto sax (7); Stockton Helbing: drums; Kent Ellingson: piano, electric piano, Hammond B-3 (2,3,4,5,6,9); Brad Williams: piano (7,8); Barb Catlin: piano (1); Tom Burchill: guitar (1,5,6,7,8); Andy Timmons: guitar (2,9); Pete Weise: guitar (3,4); Kris Berg: bass.

Title: Time Management | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Summit Records

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