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Ray Anderson Pocket brass Band: Sweet Chicago Suite

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Sweet Chicago Suite has been a long time coming. Just the second album from trombonist Ray Anderson’s Pocket Brass Band, it’s the followup to 1999’s Where Home Is . Odder still, the six-part suite that constitutes this album’s core was composed back in 2001 under a commission from Chamber Music America.

Though the suite is a musical depiction of Chicago, the Pocket Brass Band-a quartet with trumpeter Lew Soloff, sousaphonist Matt Perrine and drummer Bobby Previte-is firmly rooted in the New Orleans tradition. Anderson starts off part one, “Chicago Greys,” alone, with a winding, bending phrase, into which Perrine pumps bass notes and Previte taps out a funereal march with mallets. Soloff, with a plunger, bleats high notes, and a celebration of the ’60s-era Windy City is underway. The individual movements of Sweet Chicago Suite contain sections within them; the rhythm shifts without notice, sometimes for only a couple of bars. But even when the rhythm remains constant, the drumming does not-Previte is always reworking the components. “High School” embodies the teen years’ uninhibited, carefree spirit. The freeform “Magnificent Mistifiyo” pays tribute to the AACM. “Get to It”-well, that’s self-explanatory. Throughout, Perrine provides the bassline, for the most part, leaving Anderson and Soloff to engage, alternately, in passages that are sweet and angry, friendly and confrontational, reflective and aggressive.

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