Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band: Eleven

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

The Birdland Big Band is bold and brash. “We play loud and fast and we don’t dwell on the past,” leader and drummer Tommy Igoe says in the liner notes for this debut album. Igoe has rhythm in his blood. His father, Sonny Igoe, played drums in the late swing-era big bands of Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and Charlie Ventura. You can compare the Birdland Big Band’s attitude to the Herman, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson and Tito Puente bands. That last name is on the list because Eleven contains several Latin-jazz tunes and the personnel includes percussionist Rolando Morales-Matos.

The band plays with mastery and conviction, as “New Ground,” its opener by Darmon Meader, asserts from the get-go. There’s a scorching ensemble groove, a heroic tenor saxophone solo by Dan Willis and lots of percussive clout from Igoe and Morales-Matos. Chick Corea’s “Armando’s Rhumba” establishes the band’s Latin bona fides. Michael Brecker’s rock-ish “Spherical” and Herbie Hancock’s atmospheric “Butterfly” offer more stylistic scope. Mike and Leni Stern’s folk-ish “Common Ground,” with alto saxophonist Nathan Childers in the lead, is an updated take on big-band balladry.

So it goes. Not everything is truly loud and fast, but the band’s fresh charts and bravura style keep it from lapsing into echoes of the past. Igoe conveys a contagious groove as a drummer, and he has chops to burn.

Originally Published