Friday, July 21, 2017
Large Ensemble late July '17 (Part One)
Nearly five decades later, the Balkan Brass jazz band known as Slavic Soul Party! decided to perform the Suite in its entirety. In July of 2016, the band released "Slavic Soul Party! Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite" (Ropeadope Records) - the nonet, composed of John Carlson and Kenny Warren (trumpets), Matt Musselman and Tim Vaughn (trombones), Ron Caswell (tuba), Peter Hess (saxophones, clarinet), Peter Stan (accordion), Chris Stromquist (snare, percussion) and leader Matt Moran (tapan, goč, bubanj - all hand-held drums) - plays the program in the order of the original album. One of the joys of the works of Ellington and Strayhorn (especially from the 1940s forward) is how adaptable much of it is. Slavic Soul Party makes sure you hear all the great melodies and then put its signature percussive fire under the music. "Tourist Point of View" rushes out of the gates at top speed, Moran and Stromquist pushing the rest of the band to play with great fire. Kudos to Caswell's tuba work as he is impressive throughout. With five brass and only one reed player, accordionist (well, that's an instrument with reeds!) Stan is an important voice providing depth and flair. The funky take of "Bluebird of Delhi" (imagine James Brown letting his band loose) has great work from Hess (on clarinet) on a smart arrangement by Moran.
Duke Ellington purists might be scared away but this rendition of "Far East Suite" is full of spice and fire. It is impossible to sit still through the up-tempo songs and even the ballads have a touch of spunk. Somehow, I missed reviewing the "Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite" upon its release late last summer. If you have yet to discover this delightful album, check it out. It's pure joy!
Here's "Blue Pepper":
"Dreaming Big" is certainly the modus operandi for composer and arranger Brett Gold. He's put his heart, soul, money, brains, creativity, and more into this project; this is music that deserves to be heard. Lord knows if this is a band that will ever tour but, if they do, I would not hesitate to buy a ticket.
For more information, go to www.brettgoldnyjo.com.
Jon Owens: trumpet, flugelhorn; James de la Garza: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dylan Schwab: trumpet, flugelhorn; Scott Wendholt: trumpet, flugelhorn;
Mark Vinci: alto, soprano sax, clarinet, flute; Matt Hong: alto sax, clarinet, flute; Dave Riekenberg: tenor sax, clarinet; Tim Ries: tenor, soprano sax, flute, clarinet (3, 5-7, 11); Charles Pillow: tenor, soprano sax, clarinet (1, 2, 4, 8-10); Frank Basile: baritone sax, bass clarinet;
Bruce Eidem: trombone; John Allred: trombone; Bob Suttmann: trombone; Jeff Nelson: bass trombone;
Ted Kooshian: piano;
Sebastian Noelle: guitar (3, 5, 6, 7);
Phil Palombi: bass;
Scott Neumann: drums.
Here's a track: