Here’s proof that less can be more, with a range as broad as a full-blown big band yet retaining the subtleties and expanded solos of a much smaller unit. That approach works well for Terry Promane’s University of Toronto 12tet. On its latest project, the band puts a modern spin on a few jazz classics and digs into both originals and some newer pieces. Seven of the nine tracks were written or, more often, arranged by 12tet members and other undergrad and grad students in U of T’s composing/arranging segment.
Ben Edgecombe arranged Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia,” on which the sprightly piano work of Noah Franche-Nolan sets up a lush ensemble horn segment and alto sax solo from Brandon Tee. Nathaniel Jenkins’ chart for Tom Harrell’s soaring ballad “Sail Away” showcases trumpeter Michael Henley and guitarist Julius Clegg. The band’s version of “Perdido” gets a similar update, featuring tenor Kieran Murphy and trumpeter Kaelin Murply (no relation). Tenor player John Nicholson wrote and arranged “Eventide,” which has a beautiful panoramic feel. Promane arranged U of T faculty member Mike Murley’s “Extra Time” as a feature for the 12tet’s horn players, which segues into a funky piano section.