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Wally Dunbar Jazz Eleven: Everything in Time

Wally Dunbar, a first-rate arranger born in Montreal, now based in New York, has been working on an 11-piece library since 1992. No wonder he chose such a philosophical title for his coming out: Everything in Time (CAP 953; 71:06). Scored for his band, Jazz Eleven-three trumpets, two trombones, three reeds and rhythm-Dunbar wrote and/or arranged all the tunes. He knows how to sculpt a big shape out of a small ensemble; his skill for colors reveals his studies with Bob Brookmeyer, Manny Albam and Don Sebesky; and he knows how to provide soloists with a foundation for personal statements. But the one element missing is the one thing you can’t learn: how to create and sustain excitement. There are sparks, thanks to trombonist Jim Pugh and saxophonist Gerry Niewood. There are memorable charts: “Doodie,” based on the changes of “Sweet Georgia Brown”; the concerted mood shifts of “TDK Waltz”; the atmospheric “La Joie,” with its Gil Evans-like clusters; the funky “Li’l Bro'”; and above all, the down and dirty “Horn ‘n’ Heartache” (Pugh’s muted solo is a gem). But there’s not enough opportunities to bust out and wail, as they do in “In a Mellow Tone.”

Originally Published