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April 2003

John Fedchock New York Big Band
No Nonsense
Reservoir

John Fedchock, a former chief arranger for Woody Herman, has 16 of New York's finest sidemen, many of whom have recorded as leaders, and the way they respond to his charts for No Nonsense (Reservoir), they obviously relish his writing. The way Fedchock digs his soloists can be heard in the ample stretch-out room he provides. The title tune is an instant mood-setter. A sweeping, ascending figure by the brass literally raises the curtain on an ensemble that typifies that self-contradictory phrase "tight but loose." The band immediately asserts itself as a vehicle for Fedchock's concerted vision as well as a springboard for tons of solos between the band statements. Since there is more than 71 minutes of music, there is sufficient time to hear from 10 different soloists in addition to the leader. Fedchock's big fat tone dominates his originals "Big Bruiser" and the Latin-flavored "Eleven Nights." But two other tracks are memorable for his arranging and playing contributions: the trombones and bass of Lynn Seaton in unison for the Oscar Pettiford tune "Tricotism" and Freddie Hubbard's moody but lovely ballad "Eclipse." Monk's "Epistrophy" is given a three-against-four treatment as the trombones propel the head with a series of triplets. One unforgettable decision by Fedchock finds baritone saxophonist Scott Robinson as the featured voice on Ellington's "Come Sunday." Robinson and band are equally reverential in the interpretation. It's not possible to list each solo contribution, but no one disappoints. Ironically, one criticism can be made about Fedchock: his tone is so smooth you'd like to hear him get down and dirty-just once!

Originally published in April 2003
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