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July/August 2005

The Chris Walden Big Band
Home of My Heart
Origin Records

Chris Walden is a proven composer, arranger and film-scorer in his native Ger-many, and now he's in Hollywood-just what Tin-seltown needs, with studio gigs drying up faster than you can say "outsourcing." But Walden has made quite a first impression. The studio cats he lured in for Home of My Heart is such an embarrassment of riches that trumpeters such as Wayne Bergeron, Carl Saunders, saxophonist Tom Peterson and that workhorse of a bassist Dave Carpenter can't even buy a solo. And among the 16 tracks, only one soloist is heard twice: tenorist Rob Lockart on Charlie Haden's haunting "Here's Looking at You" and on a throwaway chart, "You Took Advantage of Me." Even flugelhornist Walden restricts himself to his graceful title tune. That's the one opportunity for Pete Christlieb, and he crams as many notes into a slow waltz as he would a screamer.

"How Long Has This Been Going On?" is the only vocal number, and it confines sly, sensuous Tierney Sutton to one chorus-not even an extra half-chorus from the release. Walden's imagination (like inserting "How High the Moon?" in the bridge of "Cherokee") and the enthusiastic solos of trumpeters Bobby Shew, Ron King, Kye Palmer, trombonist Bob McChesney and saxophonists Bob Sheppard, Brandon Fields and Jeff Driskill make this a must buy.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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