This two-CD set from UNLV’s jazz program features five distinct performance groups that explore a wide variety of music. Disc One includes eight tracks by Jazz Ensemble I and closes with three from the Honors Quartet. Bill Cunliffe’s arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” medley is a robust showcase for the ensemble. It’s also the first of many spotlights for pianist, composer and arranger Patrick Hogan, whose solo blends moments of delicacy and authority. Later in the big band program, Hogan shares his vocal talent on his own arrangement of “Tenderly.”
JEI’s co-director Nathan Tanouye arranged two Russ Freeman compositions for the big band. The salsa-flavored “Maid in Mexico” features Jorge Machain on trumpet and Bennett Mason on piano, while the rollicking “Russ Job” spotlights Jeymar Perez on alto saxophone and Amy Crosley on drums. Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story,” arranged by Mason, is a beautiful change of pace, featuring Machain on flugelhorn and Filip Rodriguez on tenor sax. The title track, “Passersby,” is a buoyant Hogan original that sounds like a Pink Panther-ish natural for an uptempo TV soundtrack. It features Perez, trombonist Giovanni Locala, and Machain’s blistering trumpet.