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The Taylor/Fidyk Big Band: Live at Blues Alley

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Eleven out of the 16 musicians on this live recording by the Taylor/Fidyk Big Band are members of the U.S. Army Blues, including co-leader and drummer Steve Fidyk. The Blues is an outstanding group in its own right, and the added presence of local D.C.-area stalwarts like tenorist Tedd Baker just reinforces the Taylor/Fidyk band’s high quality. Pair the ensemble with accomplished arranger Mark Taylor, whose charts for Stan Kenton and others are played by bands across the country, and the result is an excellent example of imaginative straightahead big-band music.

Their program includes Taylor’s charts on “Anthropology,” “Maiden Voyage,” “My One and Only Love,” “My Cherie Amour” and “What’ll I Do,” as well as Fidyk’s clever arrangement of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” Taylor’s four originals include a blazing tenor chase between Baker and Joseph Henson (“Full Count”), a graceful swinger (“Bradley’s Bop House”), a “Cute”-like drum feature (“Brush Taps”), and a deep-grooving, riff-based blues (“The Gorillaman Blues”).

Other excellent soloists are baritonist Scott Silbert, altoist Bill Linney, trumpeters Craig Fraedrich and Graham Breedlove, trombonists Jim McFalls and Matt Neiss, pianist Tony Nalker and bassist Jim Roberts. Liesl Whitaker plays monster lead trumpet.