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Mt. Hood Jazz Band 2005: Super Blue

Have you met Ms. Jones? She’s the brand new jazz-band director at Mt. Hood Community College, in Gresham, Ore. In less than a year Susie Jones has steered her young hopefuls through two recording sessions–no easy task for a two-year college where few sidepersons are holdovers. This latest date has plenty of problems, but there is more right about Super Blue than wrong.

Altoist Michael Rodriguez has caught the essence of Quincy Jones’ lovely “Quintessence,” displaying great insight and maturity. The cooking John Fedchock chart on “Tricotism” brings out the best in bassist Dave Speranza, who doubles the trombones’ unison line perfectly but seems reluctant to fly too far from the nest for his solo.

The tempos on “Moon River” and particularly “Mueva los Huesos” are just right, but if “Laura” dragged any slower it would self-destruct. Tempi are like signatures. If you don’t move fluidly, the autograph may not be recognizable. Tom Kubis’ “Rhythm Method” is an example of a chart set at the right speed; it automatically swung, with help from guitarist Chazz Hamilton and the uncredited screech trumpet. And who’s playing soprano sax and muted trumpet in unison? They all deserve credit.

Originally Published