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The George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band : Tiger by the Tail

Tiger by the Tail has it all: inspired arrangements, sharp ensemble playing, swinging, inventive soloists and a cooking rhythm section. Pianist-composer-arranger George Gruntz has assembled many excellent big bands over the years and this is a fine one. The international cast includes such well-known Americans as, for example, trumpeters Marvin Stamm and Jack Walrath, saxophonists Dave Liebman and Donny McCaslin, trombonist Dave Bargeron and drummer Danny Gottlieb.

Four tracks are Gruntz originals, and there is one each by Stamm, Walrath and Liebman, along with the ballad “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” The fresh-sounding program includes “So: What [Serious Fun]?,” that combines stride piano, blustery trombone and booting modal solos by Liebman, McCaslin and altoist Sal Giorgianni but also accommodates the ballad/aria “So If Love’s a Triumph of Illusion,” sensitively performed as a duet by flugelhornist Matthieu Michel and electric bassist Arie Volinez. Stamm’s versatility is spotlighted on “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and his own “Samba du Nancy.” The bristling jazz-rock of “So You Are” features a number of sizzling soloists. And there’s more, like “Franco’s Delight,” with trumpeter Franco Ambrosetti out front, “Hollow Wind/Passing Time,” starring Walrath, and Liebman’s strutting “Get Me Back to the Apple.”

Originally Published