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Bill Kirchner Nonet: Trance Dance

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The challenges of capturing a big band live are not to be underestimated. Those challenges grow when a smaller ensemble, in this case nine pieces, undertakes complex arrangements. Intonation and balance are tougher to maintain, and there are fewer soloists in the rotation. But Bill Kirchner and friends had been at this for a long time by the time this performance took place in 1990. Inspired by Lee Konitz’s great nonet of the ’70s, Kirchner had been building the band and its book since the ’80s kicked in. All that adds up to a near perfect balance between the rehearsed precision of a big band and the no-holds-barred flexibility and collective intuition of a smaller group. The balance thus extends to the players being able to handle both ensemble and solo work well-to put it mildly. Clearly, this was a night when everything was working. The solos are of an extraordinarily high order, benefiting from arrangements that make their statement, then support the soloists seemingly wherever they want to go. The reeds include Kirchner and Ralph Lalama on saxes, flutes and clarinet, and Mike Rabinowitz on bassoon and bass clarinet, all three of whom contribute outstanding solos. Bud Burridge and Brian Lynch play trumpet and fluegelhorn, and Doug Purviance bass trombone, with Lynch in particular distinguishing himself. The rhythm section comprises Carlton Holmes on piano and synthesizer, Chip Jackson on bass and bass guitar; and Ron Vincent on drums.