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03/10/10

Glenn Cashman & the Southland Big Band
Glenn Cashman & the Southland Big Band!
Primrose Lane

Since Glenn Cashman has spent much of his career in academia (he is an associate professor of music at Colgate University), it is no surprise that his debut album with the big band he leads in Southern California sounds, from track to track, like a history of postwar jazz. It’s possible to hear Stan Kenton, Sauter-Finegan, Miles Davis with Gil Evans, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis and even some Third Stream here. (“Satellite Twelve” is based on a tone row and dedicated to Cashman’s doctoral advisor, “new music” composer Robert Gibson.) Cashman himself cites Maynard Ferguson’s Birdland Dream Band, however, and although none of the trumpeter/flugelhorn players approaches Ferguson’s stratospheric style, that’s really a telling reference, since, despite being overtly steeped in jazz history, this is a living, breathing jazz band that swings and takes some hot solos.

For example, “The Circuit” (which Cashman wrote and previously recorded with the Bill Warfield Big Band) is a slinky number paced by Ed Czach’s Hammond B3 and also boasting some funky guitar work from Ron Escheté (its inspiration is the old Chitlin’ Circuit of African-American clubs and theaters), while “Concerto per Basso Pavimento” gives lots of room to bassist Luther Hughes. In this sense, Glenn Cashman & the Southland Big Band resemble not so much the historic ensembles listed above, but rather a group in which the composer made a point of writing for his individual soloists and giving them space to play; a band such as, say, Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Is there a higher compliment than that comparison?

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