Colores del Fuego," the first of four Gary Urwin originals on this CD, should be its title. There's so much fire and color here, provided by this creative arranger/composer and his Los Angeles-based orchestra.The opening "East of the Sun" and "Slow Boat to China" display the band at its swinging best. There's a deliberate tip of the tam to Doc Severinsen in the first and I sense Les Brown in the latter. Both charts have innovative closing sections while Pete Christlieb and Ricky Woodard serve up tenor fireworks.
Urwin's originals are innovative and multi-faceted. The exciting"Colores" showcases the trumpeters. Four of them solo, separately and then together, following Wayne Bergeron's incredible lead. "Sublimation" opens peacefully and then takes off with Rusty Higgins' soprano solo. Guest guitarist John Pisano shows his stuff on the happy bossa nova " For Liz and John" and again it's Christlieb, this time with trombonist Andy Martin, shining on "Outside Looking In."
Urwin's charts of jazz standards pay homage to the giants: Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Billy Strayhorn and Monk.So many nuances! Flute colors. (All his reeds double.) The shimmering sound of the harp. A warm-toned cello tone placed just where it should be. Tempo changes. Sax soli. Mood swings. Samuel Barber teamed with Strayhorn!
For the ballad lovers, Christlieb and pianist Christian Jacob develop a quiet understanding of "East of the Sun" in a closing duet while Bill Watrous, as always, contributes a virtuoso turn to the plaintive " I'm a Fool to Want You"as the orchestra moves from ballad to jazz waltz.
This release, a follow-up to"Perspectives," proves that the West Coast big band tradition of Bob Florence (who participated in the liner notes), Bill Holman, Tom Kubis and others continues on with the Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra.