Ken Schaphorst Big Band: Purple

Ken Schaphorst’s compositions make use of all the flexible resources of the jazz orchestra. He has absorbed all the polyglot influences in which his generation has been so ecstatically bathed, and they all imbue these nine pieces with a freshness we seldom encounter. There is blues form, and there is that play between three and four that we call swing; there are familiar harmonic domains, but everywhere the familiar is presented with signature twists. Schaphorst has enriched his tonal palette with the addition of a Hammond B-3, in the capable hands of John Medeski, to set off Uri Caine’s fine piano; Jamey Haddad and Dane Richeson handle percussion chores, bringing with them berimbau and pandiero to support “Jobim,” for example. Bassist Drew Gress is outstanding at the core of the rhythm section. Other notable solos are credited to Donny McCaslin and Seamus Blake on tenors, Andy Gravish and Dave Ballou on trumpets, and Doug Yates on clarinet and bass clarinet.