Three latest efforts exhibit the vitality and number of the large band, nonetheless large it’s – or isn’t:
Dan Bonsanti’s 14 Jazz Orchestra – three trumpets, two trombones, 4 reeds, 4 rhythm, and Bonsanti – takes on up to date jazz tunes by trendy composers on Cartoon Bebop. They embrace Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and two by Bonsanti bookending the album.
He’s performed with everyone from Dionne Warwick and Dolly Parton to the Brecker Brothers, Bob James and Jimmy Cobb, in addition to the large bands of Doc Severinsen and Stan Kenton. He performed in Jaco Pastorius’s Phrase of Mouth and wrote preparations for the its descendant, the Jaco Pastorius Massive Band. So the man is aware of his stuff. And sure, regardless of the identify of his new album, Bonsanti takes his music significantly. He’s simply not afraid to point out a humorousness as effectively.
Take the title tune of Cartoon Bebop, which kicks off the recording. Dan Bonsanti wrote it after seeing the Geico insurance coverage business that includes Rocky and Bullwinkle alongside the spot’s nominal star, the gecko. The usage of piccolo and tuba is meant to reference the favored cartoon pair, however what’s extra necessary is that the tune merely works. The riffs by all of the sections mesh effectively collectively, main right into a solo by Ed Calle on tenor, who’s featured all through the disc, in addition to Jason Carder on trumpet and Ed Maina on alto (extra on Maina later).
Airto Moreira’s “Misturada” follows, once more showcasing Bonsanti’s aptitude for somewhat non-traditional instrumentation. Flutes abound: Along with their holding forth on varied saxophones, Maina is credited on alto flute, Tom Timko on flute, Peter Brewer on bass clarinet and flute, and Bonsanti’s brother Neil on oboe, English horn, clarinet and flute.
Stanley Clarke’s “Dayride” pushes towards a fusion sound, which is smart, given its beginning on Return to Forever’s No Mystery. In distinction, “I’m All Smiles” is a gently swinging respite, once more with the emphasis on flutes and woodwinds.
Issues get actually attention-grabbing on the Chick Corea burner “Acquired a Match.” Calle opens with a scorching tenor solo, adopted by a piccolo solo (!) by Maina. Then bassist Nicky Orta takes a trip, Calle chimes in, then Maina once more – all separated by Lee Levin’s drums.
That could be a excessive level, however there are extra: the attractive woodwinds and muted brass of “Driftin,’” “Wooden Dance” once more with the flutes, Corea’s “Duende” with English horn (yup), and the practically zany nearer, a mashup of the Beatles “Day Tripper” with a Dan Bonsanti authentic, the whole lot known as “A Day Tripper Blues Buffet.” All instructed, it’s a tuneful, tasteful, totally fulfilling journey.
Now, one other journey, this time to Germany, for the query, “What do you get whenever you mix techno beats, repetitive motifs a la Steve Reich, flashing strobe lights, spoken phrase, a rousing horn part, and a sizzling electrical rhythm part?” The reply: The younger German assemblage, Jazzrausch Bigband.
The presence of contrabass clarinet, tuba, electrical keyboards and laptop computer ought to clue you in: This isn’t your father’s large band. The varied musical colours would have appealed to Gil Evans and Duke Ellington, whereas Maynard Ferguson would have appreciated the facility. However the repetitive beats and static chords seemingly wouldn’t have happy them, nor adherents of the basic big-band strategy.
However that’s the purpose. This can be a band by and for a brand new technology, and if that’s what it takes to deliver youthful followers into the fold, effectively, so be it. Jazzrausch Bigband has offered out rock and classical venues alike, and performed in every single place from festivals in Germany to Lincoln Heart in New York to SXSW.
Techné is the eighth recording by the group, led by trombonist Roman Sladek and guitarist and composer Leonhard Kuhn. The opening “Mosaique Bleu” aptly demonstrates its enchantment. Suppose Snarky Pet with a French-speaking feminine vocalist/narrator. Sladek takes an interesting solo that by no means loses the listener’s curiosity.
“Ai 101” sounds suspiciously like Philip Glass at first, earlier than the German vocals and backing usher in Kraftwerk. The best way the repeated riffs by the horns intersect once more on “Make Craft Carry out” suggests the minimalist composers, however they usually don’t characteristic star trombonist Nils Landgren.
“Inexperienced Solar” showcases muted trumpets in opposition to low brass, with synths straining to interrupt free. A saxophone solos in opposition to the dense combine, then will get mournful when a lot of the different devices drop out. Wordless vocalizing takes you to the top.
By this level, the strict rhythms start to put on in your typical big-band fan, however apparently not on the children. In actual fact, Jazzrausch Bigband turned artist in residence on the Harry Klein, some of the famend digital music golf equipment in Europe.
Little question in-person efficiency (bear in mind these?) helps get throughout the group’s enthusiasm and vitality. That’s obvious from even a fast viewing of Jazzrausch Bigband’s live videos on Youtube. However with out that, ears weaned on Basie and Mingus, even the Brian Setzer Orchestra, could tire by the top of Techné.
For the adventurous, nonetheless, tunes like “Mosaique Bleu,” “Hurricane Journey,” with its insistent trumpets, and “Shuffling Steps” could have your toes tapping. And there might be no doubting the musicality of the group because it navigates the a number of twists and turns.
In case your large band preferences hew extra towards custom than upending it, the brand new launch from the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra is perhaps simply the ticket. It options the standard complement of gamers – 5 saxophones, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones plus rhythm. Like Cartoon Bebop, it was recorded discretely by the band members from their house studios. Therefore the album’s title, Behind the Masks.
However conventional doesn’t imply staid or boring, and the number of this disc is its biggest power. “Morning Star” is a moody characteristic for Matt Sumner on flugelhorn. His wealthy, burnished sound melds effectively with the woodwinds and muted trumpets. The Latinesque “Pontaluna” provides Greg Marsden on tenor and composer Sumner loads of room to roam.
“Fanfare for an Unusual Man” is predicated on the rocking model of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Widespread Man” cooked up by Emerson Lake and Palmer. Saxophonist and arranger Bob Nixon admits ELP was a favourite of his throughout his faculty years, and the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra makes the tune its personal, giving it a swing it by no means beforehand boasted. The skirling sax solo is a brand new addition, whereas Steve Talaga’s organ solo echoes the signature stylings of Keith Emerson on keyboards, segueing because it does into Copland’s “Hoedown,” additionally an Emerson Lake and Palmer favourite.
One other common tune from that period was “Europa.” Written by Carlos Santana and his keyboard participant on the time, Tom Coster, it additionally turned a success for Argentinean saxophonist Gato Barbieri. On Behind the Masks, Jim Hayward takes the solo sax spotlight, with muted brass and flutes aplenty backing him. Whereas Barbieri was well-known for his grainy, crying sound, Hayward’s tone is extra liquid. The backgrounds are beautiful.
Robin Connell’s “Wiggle Worm” is derived from an unlikely supply: a good friend’s cassette of kids’s songs. Right here pianist Talaga takes the highlight first, adopted by Paul Brewer on trombone and co-leader Tim Froncek on drums. It’s on the concluding “Bob the Bopper” the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra is at its most kaleidoscopic. Composer Brewer performs off his fellow trombonists and the candy sax part, capping off an interesting album.