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The Church of the Little Black Dog by Joel Penner Sextet

Trumpeter, flugelhorn master and bandleader, Joel Penner, and his sextet of some of the jazz world’s most accomplished and respected musicians have released their second general jazz CD, The Church of the Little Black Dog.

So named in honor of Penner’s little black dog, Jasmine, a "sweet, loving, happy dachshund, Chihuahua, pit bull mix," this second endeavor by the Joel Penner Sextet is by no means religiously defined. It’s big band and beyond, a mixture of jazz classics, Latin, a bit of be-bop and inspirational funk. Excuse the pun it’s jazz dogma.

The disc opens opens with Cole Porter’s, "You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To." Rick Hils’ original arrangement is all big band with upbeat, jumping, jazzy solos.

Tune number two, Bronislau Kaper’s "Invitation" is finger-snapping cool; slowly swinging its way through solos without missing a beat.

Keep snapping. "Straight Life," a Freddy Hubbard tune is spirited, funky and moves to the beat of an authoritative drum.

The arrangement of the classic, "Laura," by David Raskin is anything but classic. In fact, it’s a modernized merging of drum solos with Latin overtones that compliments Raskin’s mesmerizing melody.

"The Windup," by Keith Jarrett is all playful piano, happy horns, dynamic drums, and guitar solos, all culminating in a round of rhythm.

"My Funny Valentine" is as unpredictable as love it blooms slowly; escalating into a lovely, pure rendition of Richard Roger’s ballad that lingers after it’s over.

Guitarist Doug McDonald composed "T & G" which be-bobs like the best of them in simple, uncluttered fashion.

But the best is saved for last the joyful, "Tombo in 7/4" by Airto Moreira. It’s Latin-infused and will make you want to rumba. It’s got it all including synthesizer (by arranger Rick Hils, who joins the band for this track,) whistles, great drums, and a bluesy bark by Jasmine herself.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Joel Penner Sextet
  • CD Title: The Church of the Little Black Dog
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Sea Breeze Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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