176

Octobop: Very Early

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Octobop: Very Early What's cool about Octobop, besides the band's clever name and conception, is the beautifully retro nature of its music.

An octet is the middle child, in between a small combo and a big band. Smaller groups have long been a favorite format of arrangers and Very Early is very much an arranger's collection. Accepting that this is an assembly of standards, the essence of the disc is in the choice of arrangers from within and outside the group. A comparison with Miles Davis' 1949 nonet is not inappropriate.

Very Early, titled after the Bill Evans tune of the same name, is Octobop's fourth recording following the well-received releases, After Dark, Night Lights, and Too Close for Comfort. All of these recordings have in common a respect for West Coast cool jazz in its entire splendor. West Coast genius Marty Paich's arrangements find their way onto all of the Octobop releases.

On Very Early, Paich's arrangements are manifest on the opening "Love Me or Leave Me" and "You're My Everything." They contain that seed of inspiration transformed into music that was the essence of Marty Paich's music—very much in the same way that Beethoven's music has a certain Beethoven-ness.

Both pieces begin with Brian Brockhouse's walking (nay, swing-running) bass followed by swinging statements of the melodic themes before the solos begin. Behind the solos, Paich strikes a balance between introversion and extroversion, never overpowering the soloist.

The remaining arrangements are divvied up between baritone saxophonist Geoff Roach, guitarist Jeff Conway, and trombonist Randy Smith, who also supplied the only original composition, "Saudades."

Roach's arrangement of "Pink Panther" is sumptuous and fun, while Conway's "Very Early" possesses a dark nervousness, spurred on by tenor saxophonist Matt Kesner.

The uniform presence of Bill Hazard on vibes provides this collection with a soft edge, recalling George Shearing's groups in the 1950s and '60s.

Very Early is a very satisfying release, in keeping with Octobop's past offerings.


Track Listing: Love Me or Leave Me; Keester Parade; Pink Panther; A Ballad; Very Early; Powder Puff; Mosaic; Born to Be Blue; Saudades; Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans; Goodbye Porkpie Hat; You

Personnel: Geoff Roach: leader, baritone sax, alto flute; Matt Kesner: tenor, alto, soprano sax; Randy Smith: trumpet; Jon Schermer: trombone; Bill Hazzard: vibraphone; Jack Conway: guitar; Brian Brockhouse: bass; Roy Kaufmann: drums.

Title: Very Early | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Mystic Lane Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Dream Within A Dream CD/LP/Track Review Dream Within A Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Live At The High Noon CD/LP/Track Review Live At The High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017
Read As It Should Be: Ballads 2 CD/LP/Track Review As It Should Be: Ballads 2
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Karoujite CD/LP/Track Review Karoujite
by John Eyles
Published: June 21, 2017
Read "What's Wrong" CD/LP/Track Review What's Wrong
by John Sharpe
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "The Rhythm Method" CD/LP/Track Review The Rhythm Method
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "Knock A Hole In It" CD/LP/Track Review Knock A Hole In It
by James Nadal
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "Once & Future" CD/LP/Track Review Once & Future
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 10, 2016
Read "Ephimeral" CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "December Songs" CD/LP/Track Review December Songs
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 16, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.