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Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra: What Did You Dream?

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For over two decades, Dan Gailey has directed the jazz program at the University of Kansas where he’s Professor of Music. After enriching the books of many college bands, as well as professional bands, Dan has taken a giant leap out of the Kansas cornfields into the maelstrom of a non-campus environment with the debut release of his 18-man, all professional Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra.

The curtain-raiser is a prophetically titled swinger, “Audacity,” with the whole band seemingly proclaiming “yes we can!” Propelled by drummer Jim White and anchored by baritonist Will Swindler and bassist Erik Applegate, low horns stab downward, high brass pierce upward; trumpeter Vern Sielert, trombonist Paul McKee, and tenorist Peter Sommer contribute first-rate solos. A haunting 5/4 ostinato by guitarist Steve Kovalcheck focuses ears, and eyes, on a series of images from Gailey’s Northwest background in “Point No Point.” His colors are impressionistic making you wonder how vividly he could paint with a string ensemble. A middle section, in four, features Kovalcheck playing lush licks until the full band offers a more diffuse ostinato that builds powerfully. Unexpectedly, the opening guitar figure returns and eventually fades into the ether. “Early Light,” another colorful canvas filled with streaks of dawn, is a vehicle for a master of solo colorations, tenorist Don Aliquo. An impending pedal point sets up a mysterious descending motif. Gailey displays the extremes of his palette in an orchestral backing reaching a climax that re-visits the mysterious motif one last time. A 19th sideman is added, vibist Gray Barrier, for a special timbre, but you’ll have to listen carefully; he can be heard doubling the piano in its treble register.

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