The SWR Big Band produced a stunning compact disc featuring the music of Bob Florence a short time ago. Demonstrating the sheer professionalism of this awesome group, the album took around 6-7 weeks from first rehearsal to recording to release. I have to announce that they have done it again. The Florence epic involved music of spectacular complexity that swaggered from the first to the last track with unrelenting swing and deceptive ease. This album although it involves music of a similar quality, density and difficulty, presents with great passion and excitement. It bowls along with an arrogance and confidence that removes from the listener any uncertainty as whether or not it will complete as hoped. In short this epic, this monster of a project is nothing short of majestic in it's impact.
At the core of the CD is a performance of Bill Whelan's notorious RIVERDANCE. Rhythmically very intense, the music uses the dancers' taps as it's basis. In it's original form the music poses all sorts of technical obstacles. Add Bob Curnow's arranging skills, transferring the melody to a standard big band format and acknowledge the fact that he also goes inside the original score and extracts what he finds adding a stunning epic quality to the piece. This Celtic influence is also at the centre of TOWEDNACK, the opening track. A scary thunderous intro' modulates into another rhythmically intense 'tour de force'.
Towednack (Home Parish) - Bob Curnow
Keystone Shuffle - Bob Curnow
Too Soon Tomorrow - Pat Metheny/arr. Curnow
Kenton Kollage - various/arr. Curnow
Of Another Time - Bob Curnow
Spencer Is Here! - Bob Curnow
Lullaby Waltz - Bob Curnow
5-5-7 - Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays/arr. Curnow
Not To Be Forgotten - Pat Metheny/arr. Curnow
Riverdance - Bill Whelan/arr. Curnow
In fairness I should point out that not every track is high energy. They are all highly charged emotionally. 'Of Another Time' is a tone poem to Stan Kenton. First heard, as far as I am concerned ' on an old LP by California State University Los Angeles Jazz Ensemble, when B.C. was Director Of Jazz Ensembles there. Here Claus Reichstaller on flugelhorn, without words declares the love and respect many had for Kenton. KENTON KOLLAGE could have been yet another tired collection of Kenton songs butted together. With Bob Curnow we have references within a major piece that are occasionally an undercurrent to new Curnow lines, and similarly, occasionally break through establishing themselves momentarily in your consciousness, before giving way to another tasteful acknowledgment.
I have to say this is among the finest big band CDs I have heard, startling in it's originality and immensely satisfying in it's effect.