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Big Band / Swing - CD Reviews (346)

Finnish pianist/composer Heikki Sarmanto is a legendary figure within Scandinavian progressive-jazz circles. And this 1972 big band reissue also restates his hip-ness and forward-looking proclivities amid his productions for stage and cinema. Among many rewarding factors, "Everything Is It" has not lost any steam over the years, and is an adventurous undertaking that forges a progressive slant, but incorporates the snazzy, pop shaded big band arrangements of the era.
Tommy Vig has created an original, strangely intuitive, and ultimately satisfying big band. This music is avant garde, and dissonance is integral to their vision. That said, Vig's pieces are about as catchy as avant garde big bands could conceivably be. Fast unison parts are balanced with clear melodies, and rounded out with explorative soloing and inventive charts.
John Daversa's arrangements and compositions incorporate a high degree of hip-ness. A superb trumpeter who maximizes his use of the Electric Valve Instrument (EVI) via rippling notes and compelling solo spots within the grand schema, he fuses hip-hop, funk, rock, and the jazz element into an uncannily coherent form-factor. Audacious, brassy, and energized are simply a few appropriate descriptors.
Profundity, variety and a multidimensional stance are a few striking attributes of the European Movement Jazz Orchestra's portfolio. With young Slovenian musicians lending their wares, the large ensemble casts a symphonic overture amid small ensemble breakouts and Kenton-like brashness. They explore the free-zone at times during various interludes, yet the musicians' collective imaginary powers intimate more than a few persuasive proposals.  
Danish pianist, keyboardist, composer and arranger, Martin Lutz's third release with his own group, It's Swing – Not Rocket Science, is a collection of disparate compositions all connected by Lutz's rather uniquely slanted compositional concepts. Organized into five suites, all featuring a guest artist, the music is passive at some moments and energetically manic at others, sometimes all within the same suite, as occurs most obviously during the "Africa" suite.
Ever since Dexter Gordon won an Oscar for his work in Bertrand Tavernier’s ’Round Midnight, the story of American jazz musicians finding rejuvenation under European stage lights has been a mainstream one. A lot of what those musicians actually played over there, however, has been hard to find Stateside, instead trickling in across the decades through traded tapes, bootlegs and shoddy releases (with a few notable exceptions). So, it is with some interest that this grab-bag of live dates, o
Like a delightful summer barbecue and the camaraderie of friends and family, renowned jazz saxophonist, Bobby Watson, actually recaptures it all on his CD The Gates BBQ Suite, featuring the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance Concert Jazz Orchestra. The CD is a tribute to the famous Gates BBQ in Kansas City and on the liner notes, Bobby expressed his appreciation for barbecue describing it as food that always represented a “celebration in my life." “Smoking meat remains near and dear to me," s
Remember how bassist Oscar Pettiford would take huge breaths between notes while soloing? This bad brother seemingly envisioned his instrument, his…self, as a horn, so you could hear him inhale before his fingers would pluck out a low-end exhale-ation.Pettiford came to mind while listening to guitarist Tom Rizzo’s debut album, Imaginary Numbers (Origin). With active accompaniment from a five-piece horn section and full rhythm section, Rizzo’s role here features his guitar in collaboration with
Big bands haven't been mainstream for decades, but they're still with us. Alex Stewart's Making the Scene, a fascinating discussion of contemporary big-band music, lists 86 groups based in New York City alone--and Stewart says the list is incomplete. Managing a big band is difficult, and they rarely earn their members a living wage. So why are there so many? Well, jazz musicians often dig the sound—and the challenge of sitting alongside knowledgeable peers while reading new charts. Composer/arra
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