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Commodores Jazz Ensemble: Three Shades of Blue

Talk about firepower; this naval engagement blasts “aweigh” with a sound as big as an aircraft carrier: four trumpets, four ‘bones, five saxes, four rhythm and a female singer. It’s a well-trained unit boasting outstanding arrangements of originals and standards from band members under the direction of Capt. Ralph Gambone.

Timothy Stanley plays a great trumpet solo on “Night in Tunisia,” which features an excellent arrangement by Dan LaMaestra. William Mulligan offers memorable soprano sax solos on “Revell’s Reverie” and “Green Umbrella,” the latter a fascinating study in colors, particularly for winds, anchored by an uncredited bass clarinetist. Singer Yolanda Pelzer scores heavily with “I’ll Take Romance.” She has a strong rangy voice and isn’t fazed by switching 5/4 and 6/4 or ending with the firm words “take romance” an octave higher. Trombonist Jennifer Krupa provides a cooking plunger solo on Tommy Flanagan’s bop line “Freight Trane.” The most intense swinging comes from baritonist Robert Holmes and tenorist Luis Hernandez on the shouter “Cathal Brugha Blues.”

Unfortunately the CD is not for sale. (CD available only to public libraries and educational institutions: The recording is limited to “recruiting, educational activities and troop morale usage” by the Dept. of Defense. Hey, what about civilian jazz-lovers’ morale?

Originally Published