The Colors of Jazz
Jazz Arts Group
Although the Columbus Jazz Orchestra has recorded four albums under founder Ray Eubanks, this is their first under present director Byron Stripling, whose wide-ranging credits include having played lead trumpet with the Count Basie Orchestra. Consisting of top-flight session players and soloists, the band presents diverse programs intended to appeal to a broad audience. Their latest recording is wide-ranging enough to include both a reverential version of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?,” where Stripling plays the melody straight (with a nod to Louis Armstrong), and John Clayton’s “Sax-hue-phone,” a runaway up-to-the-moment arrangement that features a virtuosic Michael Cox, Pete Mills tenor battle. They share the program with tunes by Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Frank Wess and others that display a variety of approaches, including quasi-New Orleans jazz, Hammond B3 funkiness, Latin rhythms and earthy blues. The multi-talented Stripling offers an entertaining vocal on “Sweet Georgia Brown” and Dwight Lenox delivers Ellington and Strayhorn’s “Something to Live For” tastefully and expressively.
The cadre of consummate improvisers includes saxophonist Chad Eby, pianist-organist Bobby Floyd, trumpeter Dwight Adams, trombonist Jim Masters, flugelhornist Jim Powell, alto flutist Kris Keith and drummer Bob Breithaupt, who also kicks the band with gusto.