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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Like It Is




  1. You And The Night And The Music

  2. Like It Is

  3. Never Let Me Go

  4. Just Sayin'

  5. Ojos De Rojo

  6. Hair Of The Dog

  7. Havana

  8. Just Squeeze Me

  9. For Heaven's Sake

  10. Ten Thirty 30

John Fedchock - Leader, arranger, trombone

Mark Vinci - Alto sax, flute

Charles Pillow - Alto sax, soprano sax

Rich Perry, Walt Weiskopf - Tenor sax

Gary Smulyan - Baritone sax (tracks 1, 3, 4-6,9)

Scott Robinson - Baritone sax (tracks 2, 7, 8, 10)

Tony Kadleck, Craig Johnson, Barry Ries - Trumpet, flugelhorn

Scott Wendholt - Trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 2, 3, 5-8, 10)

John Bailey - Trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 1, 4, 9)

Keith O'Quinn, Clark Gayton - Tombone

George Flynn - Bass trombone

Allen Farnham - Piano

Dick Sarpola - Bass

Dave Ratajczak - Drums

Bobby Sanabria - Percussion (tracks 2, 5, 7)

If anyone should know what makes a big band tick, it is John Fedchock. The name might not be overly familiar to some but this is a trombonist and leader who has paid his dues. In his early days in the business, he spent seven years with the Woody Herman Band and, from 1984 until Herman's death in 1987, was music director for him. Over the years, he has accumulated extensive big band experience, as have many of the musicians assembled here. His own band dates from around 1992 and, as he points out in the liner notes, most of the members of the group playing on this disc have a long musical association with the New York Big Band. This is their fifth album.

There is a nice balance struck between Fedchock's own compositions (all the arrangements are his) and more familiar material. Of his own originals, two had particular appeal. The title track Like It Is is an infectious piece which exploits the talents of altoist Charles Pillow, who plays with true feeling, and the forthright trumpet of Barry Ries. Bobby Sanabria on percussion delivers a charged performance, too. Then, there is Ten Thirty 30, commissioned by the University of the Arts for the Clifford Brown Symposium. The title here refers to the late (and immortal) trumpeter's birth date, namely October 30th, 1930. As Fedchock points out, the inspiration for the composition was to be found entirely in Clifford's music and solos. Among some notable contributions to the theme are a fluid trombone solo from Fedchock and a masterly trumpet solo from Scott Wendholt. There is a real sense of attack from the entire band, too.

Two of the standards on the CD also strike gold. Never Let Me Go has Fedchock's mellow tone and sensitive interpretation on trombone helping to do justice to an exquisite melody. The Gaines/Ellington number Just Squeeze Me features the exceptional Scott Robinson on baritone sax, producing a totally laid-back solo of quality. Elsewhere, drummer Dave Ratajczak, who sadly died four months after this recording, gives a demonstration of adept drumming on a track written by another musician no longer with us, pianist and composer Cedar Walton. Wherever you listen on this disc, you will encounter fine musicianship, strong arrangements and good music. John Fedchock talks in terms of holding the past and present of big band music in creative tension. I imagine most listeners will feel he has accomplished just that.

James Poore

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