One for Maynard
Pump up the volume! This debut CD packs enough brassy testosterone to heat up your subwoofer, thump your floorboards, scatter your pets and cause neighbors or idle passersby to gnash their teeth. Bandleader Joe Murphy has plenty bravado, exhorting band directors in his booklet notes to teach their students to move air, claiming that his own LOUD MouthpiecesTM will help do the job. Behind the brashness, there is also some high-octane musicianship. Murphy proves to be a winsome, resourceful arranger when you listen to his charts through headphones and the walls of your living room aren’t blurred. His virtuosity on tuba transforms it into a viable solo instrument on Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and Maynard Ferguson’s “Give It One,” nearly equaling the élan of a trombone.
Although Steve Patrick figures prominently in the scoring on high lead trumpet, he only solos on that Ferguson opener and on the iconic Zawinul “Birdland” finale. In between, the less stratospheric Mike Casteel shows himself to be the abler improviser, smuggling a mute into the studio for his solo on “Foreign Correspondent.” Ron Gilmore also provides welcome relief from decibel barrage, soloing on four different keyboards, including a B3, a Kong Trinity, and a Wurlitzer. Adam Agati adds welcome color on guitar, softening the soundfield on Chick Corea’s “La Fiesta,” on which Gilmore plays Fender Rhodes.
So One for Maynard isn’t a non-stop screech-a-thon. But it isn’t one for soft lights, bedrooms or girlfriends lacking steely embouchures.