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Greenville Jazz Collective Big Band: Welcome To Earth

Mark Sullivan By

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Greenville, South Carolina boasts an active nonprofit jazz organization, the Greenville Jazz Collective. Musician-run, it offers an outreach program to local schools, presents concerts, and runs a monthly jam session. And there's the Greenville Jazz Collective Big Band, which once a month somehow squeezes onto the stage at Chicora Alley, a small upstairs restaurant and bar. On warm summer nights with the windows open you can hear them down in the street.

With sets blending original material from band members and local composers along with standard repertoire, the band had a broad array of material to choose from for this album. "City of Rowell" is a rousing opener from guitarist Adam Knight: starting from an arpeggiated guitar figure, it builds to a fusion guitar solo and a bit of brass free-for-all before the final theme. "Aya Sofia" is the first of saxophonist Tom Wright's contributions, an exciting Middle Eastern-flavored Latin tune in the tradition of iconic composer/bandleader Duke Ellington's "Caravan." Wright plays just about the entire saxophone family, but sticks to baritone saxophone here. But the solo spotlight shines on trombonist Brad Jepson, bassist Shannon Hoover, trumpeter Justin Ray, and drummer Tim Blackwell.

The title tune is Wright's lovely tribute to a friend's newborn baby, with a soothing bass ostinato, brass choruses alternately soothing and majestic, and solo space for Knight and pianist Richard Shulman. Shulman composed "Relaxin' At Cousin's," a classic swing tune. "Dealing Seconds" comes from the pen of Asheville, North Carolina composer David Wilken, one of two tunes of his included. It provides a swinging foundation for chris mitchell's tenor saxophone and a fleet solo from guest guitarist Matt Dingledine (a regular member of the house band at the jam sessions).

The covers include trumpeter/bandleader Thad Jones' "Don't Git Sassy," which is propelled by guest pianist Rico Tyler's sassy piano, dueling trumpeters Phillip Howe and Ron Davis, and Mitchell's tenor. The band's shows always include music by legendary bassist/composer Charles Mingus. The album closes with an exciting version of his "Moanin,'" featuring Wright's baritone saxophone, and the whole group wailing up a storm. A fitting ending to a first-class big band recording. Proof, if any was needed, that the the big band tradition is alive and well.

Track Listing: City of Roswell; A Kneezy Waltz; Aya Sofia; Fairy Tale; Don't Git Sassy; Facing East; Welcome To Earth; Relaxin' At Cousin's; Skylark; Dealing Seconds; Moanin'.

Personnel: Evan Jacobi: alto sax; Matt Olson: alto sax (3, 4, 10); Matthew Storie: alto sax, flute; Chris Mitchell: tenor sax; Partick Landis: tenor sax; Tom Wright: bari sax; Ron Davis: trumpet; Caleb Pitman: trumpet (2); Justin Ray: trumpet (3, 4, 10); Phillip Howe: trumpet (5, 6, 11); Seth Carson: trumpet (3, 4, 10); Chris Imhoff: trumpet; Rob Rhyne: trumpet; Jim King: trumpet; Brad Jepson: trombone; Joey Lee: trombone; Dan Tegel: trombone; Jason Slaughter: bass trombone; Richard Shulman: piano; Rico Tyler: piano (5); Adam Knight: guitar; Matt Dingledine: guitar (3, 4, 10); Shannon Hoover: bass; Tim Blackwell: drums; Kevin Korschgen: drums (3, 4, 10).

Title: Welcome To Earth | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Greenville Jazz Collective

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