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Brad Steinwehe Jazz Orchestra: Nutville

One of the best-kept secrets in the big band genre is Brad Steinwehe. Two facts are established: he has been one of the leading jazz educators at San Diego State University, where this CD was recorded during ’05 and ’06; and he is one of the most highly regarded lead trumpeters in captivity. So we’ll let the album speak for itself … and how well it communicates! With two, virtually complete 24-piece bands (allowing for personnel duplication) under his direction, Steinwehe has encouraged slick, straight-ahead, often galvanic blowing on charts by Horace Silver, Kim Richmond, Frank Mantooth and Woody Shaw, whose line, “Moontrane,” inspires the best playing by tenorist Steve Steinberg and baritonist Gabriel Sundy. It also features solos by the trombone section so precise you’d swear all parts were overdubbed by section boss Scott Kyle. Don Specht’s waltz, “Nice,” is given a Mancini treatment by arranger Richmond. Add the thoughtful tinkling by pianist Irving Flores and the results are too delicate for such a blah title. Talk about titles, Silver’s “Nutville” induces memorable solos by trombonist Kyle and trumpeter Steinwehe. Kyle’s plunger work on “Desert Blues” is outstanding; ditto drummer Mike Holguin’s gap-filling. He knows how to propel a big, big band. And Steinwehe knows how to achieve crisp cut-offs and dynamic shadings.

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