The UNCG Jazz Ensemble: Vision

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
When it comes to jazz studies programs, one might think that the University of North Carolina-Greensboro would be one of the new kids on the block. Not so. Actually, the UNCG program will be forty years old in 2007. What's more, Vision isn't the jazz ensemble's first album; half a dozen others have preceded it, including a live date with Chicago saxophone legend Dewey Redman (father of Joshua). Among its many accomplishments is one notable first: in 1991, the UNCG ensemble became the first college big band from North Carolina to perform at New York City's Carnegie Hall.

While the ensemble performs splendidly on Vision, it's the writing that really carries the day. Seven of the nine selections were composed by members of the band, and none is less than admirable. The others were written by Kirk MacDonald ("Forward Motion ) and director Steve Haines ("Canada's Ocean Playground ). "Motion is an explicit highlight, as the band swings relentlessly behind swaggering solos by tenors Gregg Gelb and Brandon Tesh and guitarist J.P. Smith.

Pianist Michael van Patter wrote the charming title selection, bassist Peter Maness "Autum Squeeze and "Atmosphere, Gelb "I Cared for You, trumpeter Michael Sailors "Collision Course, trombonist Mark Shoun "Fading Twilight, and alto Andrew Hays the opulent "Angela's Eyes, which showcases Tesh's evocative tenor saxophone. Van Patter plays tasteful Fender Rhodes on "Atmosphere, with other sturdy solos by Maness and trombonist Sal Mascali. The reed section is impressive on the fast-moving "Collision Course, as are van Patter, Sailors, baritone Paul Fisher, drummer Jon-Marc Dale and an unnamed trombonist.

From its name, one might assume that Shoun's "Fading Twilight would be a ballad, but it's a robust flag-waver with solos to match by Shoun and Sailors, placing a dynamic exclamation mark on a consistently entertaining session. Although not as well known or celebrated as many of its peers, the UNCG ensemble can stand its ground with most of them, and for that we must credit its leader, Steve Haines. The band surpasses the recording itself, which is well-balanced but has a hard edge that is especially unkind to the trumpet section. To its credit, the UNCG ensemble rises above that minor flaw and delivers a sharp and rewarding performance.

Track Listing: I Cared for You; Canada

Personnel: Steve Haines: director; Michael Sailors, Jim Smisek, John Davis, Ken Butler: trumpet; Gregg Gelb: alto, tenor sax, flute; Andrew Hays: alto, soprano sax, flute; Brandon Tesh, Brian Smith: tenor sax, clarinet; Paul Fisher: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Mark Shoun, Sal Mascali, David Morse, Brandon Bullard: trombone; J.P. Smith: guitar; Michael van Patter: piano, keyboards; Peter Maness: bass; Jon-Marc Dale (1,3-5,7), Ryan Walder (2,6,8,9): drums.

Title: Vision | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Self Produced


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "# 1" CD/LP/Track Review # 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan" CD/LP/Track Review My Scandinavian Blues: A Tribute To Horace Parlan
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Beginnings" CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "December Songs" CD/LP/Track Review December Songs
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow" CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 3, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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