Wong Fei Hong Meets Little Strudel
Composer/arranger Edward Ratliff pays tribute to the Hong Kong film industry on Wong Fei Hong Meets Little Strudel. He also plays trumpet, cornet, trombone and euphonium in his group, which includes alto and baritone saxman Michael Attias, violinist Sam Bardfeld, acoustic and electric bassist John Hebert and drummer/vibist Kevin Norton, all highly skilled musicians.
The doubling ability of band members gives Ratliff a choice of far more instruments to employ than the average quintet offers, and he takes advantage of it to write colorful, stylistically eclectic and humor-filled pieces that do create atmospheres similar to those film writers try to establish. In fact, directors as well as choreographers commissioned some of the tunes.
This is tightly arranged stuff, which doesn't contain a whole lot of improvisation. Still, give the group credit for playing the charts with a verve and spontaneous feel that enlivens them even further. Attias has rich, penetrating tones on alto and baritone, Bardfeld articulates with vigor and precision and Hebert and Norton groove strongly together, buoying the ensemble.