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New Orleans natives,
Wynton Marsalis and Jon Batiste
pay homage to the late,
great John Lewis of the
Modern Jazz Quartet.
by Andrew Elias
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
An excellent live tribute to the great John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Lewis piano playing exemplified jazz cool and the MJQ lured classical music fans. Every tune and all the arrangements were written by Lewis, and there is no better orchestra to play them.
Two Bass Hit and Spanish Steps showcase the full force and flare of the large orchestra, while the chemistry between Marsalis and his fellow New Orleans native, Jon Batiste (pianist and bandleader on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert) in the small group is most evident on Delauneys Dilemma. Yet, the standout might be Batistes solo piano recital of Lewis most popular tune, Django. This is top shelf jazz that is easy to listen to, but certainly not easy-listening music.
Christian McBride Big Band
Bringin It picks up where McBrides Big Bands 2011 Grammy Award-winning debut album, Good Feeling left off: making funky and tasteful, with the band riding his bass in all sorts of directions. His arrangements are often surprising, but always original; his playing always masterful.
Dial & Oatts/Rich DeRosa/The WDR Big Band
In a tribute to the enduring essence of Ellingtons genius, Garry Dial and Dick Oatts have partnered with arranger/conductor Rich DeRosa to resurrect some of Dukes rarely or never heard compositions. With Dial on piano and Oatts playing sax, the album opens with two mostly forgotten tunes from the 1940s, Hey Baby and Let the Zoomer Drool. Three unrecorded gems are Just a Gentle Word From You and Introspection and Kiki.
I Must Be Mad, with Dial and Oatts channeling Ellington and his long-time saxophonist, Johnny Hodges, concludes the album. This superb collection of rarities proves that not only is the WDR Big Band a formidable jazz ensemble, but that even if you think you know the extent of Dukes unbound genius it is never too late to rediscover his works.
Terell Stafford & Dick Oatts
The album is basically a 27 minute long medley of some of Sinatras most popular tunes re-imagined with lush orchestral arrangements (courtesy of Michael Abene), punctuated by Staffords sophisticated trumpet and Oatts tasteful alto sax solos. It Was a Very Good Year and In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning are reminders of Sinatras more tender side while Come Fly with Me and You Make Me Feel So Young resurrect the spirit of Nelson Riddles rollicking orchestra. When the title track ends this marvelous but brief collection, you will be left with a wanting for more.
This is the trumpeters homage to jazz great, Oliver Nelson (whom Vanore met at summer camp 50 years ago!). Vanore has assembled a first-rate band featuring four trumpets, two saxophones, two trombones, two French horns and a four-piece rhythm section. While Nelsons best known tunes (Blues and the Abstract Truth and the title track) are revamped with affection and reverence, it is the ensembles new take on the pop standard A Taste of Honey, the timeless folk song Greensleeves, and Ramsey Lewis St. Louis Blues that stand out as examples of both Vanores remarkable talents as an arranger and bandleader, and Nelsons extraordinary genius and spirit. The blues have rarely been more colorful.