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Bill Warfield Big Band: A Faceless Place

Bill Warfield’s credentials include both academic and professional jazz accomplishments, and his experience is reflected in his compositions and arrangements for his big band. The clever opener, “Mad Dog 245,” is based entirely on three intervals (second, fourth and fifth), yet during Jay Migliori’s energetic tenor solo the accompaniment shifts to music that was “inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stewart and James Brown,” all of whom had influenced 1970s-era Miles Davis. Then, on “Variations on a Theme by Frank Poulenc,” Warfield imaginatively superimposes a motive from French composer Francis Poulenc’s “Aubade” over the chord changes to Wayne Shorter’s “E.S.P.” Indeed, the influence of Shorter and Davis pervades the recording.

The four remaining tracks include Shorter’s “The Three Marias” and two tunes from Davis’ Bitches Brew: “Spanish Key” and Joe Zawinul’s “Pharoah’s Dance.” The remaining performance, “Jazzman,” consists of “an overdubbed orchestration around an improvisation based on a piece of spontaneously created poetry” by Empress Nzingha.

For all its novelty, Warfield’s music is consistently absorbing and rhythmically appealing, and the CD features strong soloists such as Migliori, guitarist Vic Juris, trombonists Dave Riekenberg and Tim Sessions, pianist Roberta Piket, baritonist Sam Bortka and the leader on trumpet.

Originally Published