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Ralph Peterson’s GenNext Big Band: I Remember Bu: Alive Vol. 4 @ Scullers Featuring Donald Harrison (Onyx)   

Having come under the tutelage of Art Blakey (a.k.a. Buhaina, or “Bu” for short), drummer Ralph Peterson knows a thing or two about the value of mentorship. His time as a Jazz Messenger proved life-changing and he’s long been paying it forward through more formalized lines, teaching and rearing up-and-comers at one of jazz’s foremost … Read More “Ralph Peterson’s GenNext Big Band: I Remember Bu: Alive Vol. 4 @ Scullers Featuring Donald Harrison (Onyx)   “

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University of Toronto 12tet: When Day Slips Into Night (U of T Jazz)

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.

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Antonio Adolfo: Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica (AAM)

Brazilian big-band music is relatively rare, at least in comparison with its Afro-Cuban and—obviously—swing kin. With Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica, pianist and composer Antonio Adolfo realizes his dream of recording his music with just such a large ensemble, after more than 25 albums as a leader, including last year’s well-received Hybrido: From Rio to Wayne … Read More “Antonio Adolfo: Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica (AAM)”

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Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: Presence (Smoke Sessions)

The big Orrin Evans news of the past year has, undoubtedly, been the pianist’s induction into the Bad Plus following the decision of that trio’s co-founder, Ethan Iverson, to leave after a decade and a half. Fortunately, Evans’ new endeavor still affords him enough time to pursue creative outlets outside of TBP, including the Captain … Read More “Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: Presence (Smoke Sessions)”

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Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band: West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)

Drummer Bobby Sanabria was born in the South Bronx in 1957, the same year West Side Story opened on Broadway. As a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent who first experienced that musical through its 1961 film adaptation, Sanabria was most transfixed by how well composer Leonard Bernstein’s instrumental themes captured the Puerto Rican … Read More “Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band: West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)”

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UCF Flying Horse Big Band: The Bat Swings (Flying Horse)

Holy bebop, Batman! Jeff Rupert, director of the University of Central Florida Flying Horse Big Band, decided to turn the school’s premier student ensemble loose on classic 1960s TV-superhero music. This CD focuses on the energetic, quirky stuff that Nelson Riddle and others wrote for Batman, with a nod to Spider-Man for good measure. Rupert, … Read More “UCF Flying Horse Big Band: The Bat Swings (Flying Horse)”

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Charles Pillow Large Ensemble: Electric Miles (MAMA)

In retrospect it’s easy to hear the evolution from Miles Davis’ mid-’60s albums to In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and On the Corner. Still, plenty of listeners weren’t happy when atmosphere took the place of composition. Groove was everything, though sometimes it could feel tentative. Studio editing, of course, also played a major role, … Read More “Charles Pillow Large Ensemble: Electric Miles (MAMA)”

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OSU Jazz Orchestra: Solid Gold (OSU Jazz Studies)

This Oklahoma State University big-band project is an intense collaboration with trombonist Michael Dease, whose straight-ahead sound and bubbling font of musical ideas can bring out the best in the players around him. That happened here. Dease, who enjoys a dual career path—he plays and tours with a variety of ensembles, and he’s on the … Read More “OSU Jazz Orchestra: Solid Gold (OSU Jazz Studies)”

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Omar Sosa & NDR Bigband: Es:sensual (Otá)

Es:sensual is not the Cuban-born pianist-composer Omar Sosa’s first meetup with Germany’s NDR Bigband or the Brazilian multi-tasker Jaques Morelenbaum. In 2010, the same three forces came together for Ceremony, which JazzTimes called in its review “an inventive and rewarding project [that] extends the tradition of Afro-Cuban big bands as established by such pioneers as … Read More “Omar Sosa & NDR Bigband: Es:sensual (Otá)”

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