1. The Big Time
Suite for Three
7. At the Corner of Ralph and Gary
8. Sad Song
Nick Marchione, Tanya Darby, Terell Stafford, Scott Wendholt -Trumpets and flugelhorns
John Mosca, Luis Bonilla - Trombones
Jason Jackson -Tenor and bass trombone
Douglas Purviance - Bass trombone
Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes - Alto saxes, soprano saxes and flutes
Rich Perry -Tenor sax and flute
Ralph Lalama - Tenor sax, flute and clarinet
Gary Smulyan - Baritone sax
Jim McNeely - Piano
David Wong - Bass
John Riley - Drums
Frank Basile - Bass clarinet (tracks 3,5 and 8)
David Peel - French Horn (tracks 1,5,6 and 8)
Mike Truesdell - Percussion ( tracks 1,5 and 8)
The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra has an impressive pedigree, having grown out of the legendary Thad Jones-Mel Lewis orchestra of the 60s and 70s, and is the
regular band that performs every Monday night at the famous Village Vanguard in New York. Several of its CDs have been nominated for Grammy awards with two
of them winning the big band award. This CD is their tribute to the late Bob Brookmeyer whose arrangements have long been an important part of the band's
repertoire. The band has had few personnel changes over the years and the advantage of this is evident in the superb ensemble playing throughout this CD.
All the compositions, except Skylark, are by Brookmeyer.
The Big Time,
one of three pieces on the CD that Brookmeyer wrote for Mel Lewis but were never recorded, features the band in full cry from the start with brief solo
bursts breaking through complex brass and woodwind patterns. Suite for Three was written by Brookmeyer to feature individual members of the band.
First, veteran altoist Dick Oatts weaves dexterously in and out of powerful broken rhythms; Scott has Wendholt on flugelhorn in calm and
reflective mood and Rich is a straight-ahead swinger for tenorist Perry.
at fourteen minutes the longest track, is a sequel to an earlier composition called ABC Blues and is a complex, occasionally dissonant piece with
constantly shifting rhythms. Soloists featured include pianist Jim McNeely, now the band's composer-in-residence, and trombonist John Mosca, the band's
director. Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer's Skylark could hardly be a greater contrast with its spare piano intro leading into a luscious
exploration of the well-loved melody by Dick Oatts.
At the Corner of Ralph and Gary
continues the Ellingtonian practice of writing for specific soloists, this time tenor saxist Ralph Lalama and baritone saxist Gary Smulyan who swap phrases
against a background of ensemble riffs. Sad Song, with its mystic, folksy Eastern European feel, is another feature for the impressive
Dick Oatts, this time on flute. It's a quiet, haunting piece, showing the full range of Brookmeyer's remarkable writing talents.
This is an outstanding CD by a very classy big band - more Grammies to follow?