You can’t just jump in your car these days and go check out a jazz nonet. For that matter, live jazz doesn’t exist in most of our cities, except in New York where an arm and a leg or your first born is generally the admittance price to see “the stars.” But, I digress. Back to my point about larger ensembles, for instance the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra requires grants and funding to stay afloat. The Either/Orchestra, one of the last touring large ensembles to eat, sleep, and live in a van, is on hiatus. Who needs the grief? Unless you are the Mingus Big Band or Vanguard Jazz Orchestra with a regular space to gig, why bother? Appearances by larger ensembles from McCoy Tyner or Gerald Wilson are rare. Lack of money and venues coupled with rehearsal and touring headaches are probably why there are so few appearances by jazz nonets. Come to think about it, the Miles Davis Nonet produced some historical moments when he created Birth of the Cool, but its public appearances were few. Sure the local university has a big band, but it might as well be a marching band for its lack of swing. That is why an appearance or a recording by a first class large ensemble is so precious. This two-disc set was recorded at the Baird Auditorium in Washington, D.C. 1990. Leader, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Bill Kirchner takes the nonet through a wide range of sounds from Latin, semi-pop, to bebop, and mostly sophisticated swing. Those sounds were created through clever instrumentation arrangements, from the bass trombone and flugelhorns for color, and the unique inclusion of Rabinowitz’s bassoon and distinctive bass clarinet. Kirchner paints with pastels and watercolors, but that’s not to say this recording lacks fire. The heat comes from the co-trumpeters Bud Burridge and Brian Lynch, who is an alumnus of Art Blakey’ s Jazz Messengers and Ralph Lalama. Lalama who came up playing with Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and the Vanguard Orchestra is a precious find. His tenor voice is definitely old school Blue Note (Sonny Rollins and Ike Quebec) grabbing your attention with each solo. Check out his latest and best release as leader Music For Grown-Ups (Criss Cross). The Nonet flexes it’s large sound but also allows space for plenty of intimate moments. Listening is almost as good as being there.
Track List:Trance Dance; Brother Brown; Theme For Gregory; Infant Eyes; Low Tide; Turkish Taffy; Sunday In New York; Hiding Place; Velas Icadas; 2-5-1; Close To You.
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