Ryan Haines’ second big-band CD employs a cadre of excellent players from the Washington, D.C., region, many of them affiliated with the area’s fine military jazz ensembles. On a varied mainstream program of Haines originals (plus his elegant arrangement of “America the Beautiful”), the band displays exemplar precision and cohesiveness and swings as hard as anybody around. Haines’ well-crafted charts range from the lovely contemporary tune “Without You,” featuring the leader’s trombone over woodwinds and muted brass, to the racing “No Harm, No Foul,” where Haines and tenor-man Tedd Baker demonstrate masterful control of their instruments and of the hard-bop vocabulary, and the ensemble flawlessly executes some truly demanding passages. Lighthearted fun is provided by “Swing Open,” a medium-up blues that recreates the big-band sound of the swing era.
The band includes a number of interesting soloists in addition to the leader. Trumpeters Tim Leahey and Rich Sigler are especially impressive on the quick “A Problem With the Sun.” Others include altoists Andy Axelrad and Lucas Munce, baritonist Doug Morgan, guitarist Jim Roberts, drummer Steve Fidyk and pianist Tony Nalker.