Although the Columbus Jazz Orchestra has recorded four albums under founder Ray Eubanks, this is their first under present director Byron Stripling, whose wide-ranging credits include having played lead trumpet with the Count Basie Orchestra. Consisting of top-flight session players and soloists, the band presents diverse programs intended to appeal to a broad audience. Their latest recording is wide-ranging enough to include both a reverential version of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?,” where Stripling plays the melody straight (with a nod to Louis Armstrong), and John Clayton’s “Sax-hue-phone,” a runaway up-to-the-moment arrangement that features a virtuosic Michael Cox, Pete Mills tenor battle. They share the program with tunes by Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Frank Wess and others that display a variety of approaches, including quasi-New Orleans jazz, Hammond B3 funkiness, Latin rhythms and earthy blues. The multi-talented Stripling offers an entertaining vocal on “Sweet Georgia Brown” and Dwight Lenox delivers Ellington and Strayhorn’s “Something to Live For” tastefully and expressively.
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