December 2005

Michael Pagan Big Band
Pag's Groove
Capri Records

Michael Pagan, whose credits include degrees in music composition, numerous awards, prizes and commissions and stints as pianist with many well-known jazz figures, teaches in the jazz-studies program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His diverse experience has made him a highly skilled and inventive composer and arranger. With a band comprised of top musicians from Colorado, where he resided until recently, Pagan demonstrates his expertise on a program of originals that include swingers, bossas, a ballad, a waltz and even a 12-tone serial composition.

For all Pagan's academic credentials, his music is appealingly accessible. Special moments include flugelhornist Greg Gisbert's lush performance of the bossa nova "Lyric Interlude," Tom Ball's agile euphonium solo on "More Than a Friend" and, on the title tune, the saxophone-section harmonization of trumpeter Garner Pruitt's reading of Miles Davis' "Bags' Groove" solo.

Originally published in December 2005
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