The Flying Horse Big Band digs deep into music from four jazz giants and two prominent contemporary composer-musicians for much of its newest recording, with a few nifty enhancements on this musical flight. There’s a bit of Miles, Trane, Monk, and Jobim, and a composition apiece from saxophonist Bob Mintzer and trumpeter Michael Philip Mossman, who also arranged three other tracks.
The ensemble playing is solid throughout and solos are dominated by baritone saxophonist Saul Dautch and trombonist Jeremiah St. John. Miles Davis’ “The Serpent’s Tooth” is a high-flying showcase for Dautch and St. John, while “Vierd Blues,” credited to Davis but composed by John Coltrane (previously known as “John Paul Jones” and “Trane’s Blues”), is funked up with some Hammond organ work from Mikal Mancini and a guitar spotlight for Chris Medina.
Off-kilter horn section lines tease into Mossman’s arrangement of Monk’s “Trinkle Tinkle,” a fine baritone sax feature for Dautch. The big band’s take on Bob Mintzer’s frisky composition “Good News” features tenor saxophonist Dylan Hannan and Mancini on the Hammond C-3. Mossman’s original “Blue Steps” showcases the ensemble’s up-tempo fills around solos from Dautch, St. John, and Hannan.
Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Agua de Beber,” with Dautch shifting to alto, is the first of three pieces on which the 27-member UCF Studio Orchestra adds more texture. The UCF faculty band, The Jazz Professors, is featured mid-disc on “’Round Midnight.” Tenor saxophonist Jeff Rupert (the Flying Horse Big Band director), pianist Per Danielsson, bassist Richard Drexler, guitarist Bobby Koelble, and drummer Marty Morell are cushioned by the UCF Studio Orchestra. Rupert’s Getz-like tenor work is sublime.
The string orchestra returns to join the big band on John Lennon’s anthemic ”Imagine.” This beauty features special guest Jeff “T-Bone” Gerard on soulful vocals. He drops in a line or two of clever commentary that enhances the original ballad. You’ll also hear Rupert’s tenor work.