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Jerry Ascione Big Band: Beautiful Love

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Herman West Coast jazz scene, for around 25 years now Sea Breeze has remained a beacon of light and hope for both aficionados of the genre and the hundreds of qualified musicians who, without the opportunity to record for major labels, might otherwise have gone unheard outside their native locales. Perhaps typical of Sea Breeze’s output is this current release.

The band adheres to a standard instrumentation of eight brass, five saxes and four rhythm . . . who also contribute original compositions and arrangements, in some cases the entire book and in others perhaps a few Initially formed by two lifelong lovers of the 1950s post-Kenton/post-characteristic pieces. Distinct from many contemporaneous jazz combos, however, the band balances their programs with a proportionate number of standards imaginatively reworked.

Pianist Jerry Ascione, who wrote all of the charts on Beautiful Love, rounded up a stirring crew of sidemen for his debut date, with the majority of players coming from the U.S. Navy’s famous Commodores, one of the longest lasting large jazz orchestras in the world. Brought in as ringers for the Sea Breeze session were trumpeter/flugelhornist Marvin Stamm, who solos impressively on “Beautiful Love,” “My Foolish Heart,” “All the Things You Are,” and Horace Silver’s “Nutville,” and the Capitol Bones’ trombonist, Matt Niess, who has a feature on “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” as well as a spot on “Nutville.” Ascione has a special love for the sound of a full-bodied sax section, and examples of his skill in this area are heard on “It’s Alright With Me” and two of the other titles already mentioned.