Mike Vax and New Oakland Jazz Orchestra: Alternate Route

A community effort designed to keep big band music an important part of local cultural life, the 21-person New Oakland Jazz Orchestra is directed by trumpeter/flugelhornist Mike Vax. All arrangements seem to have originated in-house, and the most engaging of the 12 performances on Alternate Route are Howard Cespedes’ title track, “It Might As Well Be Spring,” showcasing the remarkable range and swing of vocalist Cami Thompson, Rick Walsh’s reworking of Mingus’ “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” and Norm Tompach’s brightly swinging takeoff on Al Cohn’s “Music for Dancing.”