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The Bob Florence Limited Edition: Earth

Underlying the joyful, celebratory sound of much of Florence’s music there is a serious, almost somber inner core that has as much in common with Jelly Roll and Duke as it does with Monk and Gil Evans, and it is this element that elevates his orchestrations to a level far above that generally associated with contemporary big band writing. But even beyond the profundity of his ever-searching scores is the swing generated by his 19-piece band, perhaps the most polished large ensemble currently in operation. It is impossible to select favorites among the eight charts presented here, but they run the gamut from obliquely referential expansions of “Black And Tan Fantasy” and “Straight, No Chaser” to an intensely explored “Emily” and a generous handful of provocative originals, any one of which can serve as a textbook for newly emerging jazz composers. The uniformly expressive soloists are trumpeters Steve Huffsteter, Carl Saunders, Warren Leuning, and George Graham, trombonist Bob McChesney, saxmen Don Shelton, Kim Richmond, Dick Mitchell, and Terry Harrington, bassist Trey Henry, drummer Gregg Field, and, of course, the leader on piano.

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