John Fedchock New York Big Band – Like It Is – MAMA

John Fedchock New York Big Band – Like It Is – MAMA Records MAA 1048, 69:50 ****:

(John Fedchock – trombone — arranger — plus big band)

Hooray for The John Fedchock New York Big Band! This propulsive and dynamic group has come together for a new release entitled Like It Is, to deliver a smartly cohesive celebration of sparkling musicianship.  

Lead by John Fedchock, who is a trombonist of perspective and conviction, the band offers ten tracks that covers a range of styles and tempos, that fully fits the leader’s vision. The opening selection is an up-tempo  “You And The Night And The Music” with drummer Dave Ratajczak laying down the pace, and then carrying through the number. Fedchock has a strong opening statement, which is then picked up by altoist Mark Vinci, followed by Rich Perry on tenor sax. The title track “Like It Is”, an original by John Fedchock, has Bobby Sanabria on percussion to give the number a Latin vibe. Trumpeter Barry Reis does some upper register  rambling before getting back to the work at hand.

Jay Livingston and Ray Evans wrote “Never Let Me Go” for the 1956 crime drama The Scarlet Hour. Fedchock’s arrangement features his trombone,  and captures the earthy particularity of the composition’s structure. One of the most interesting pianists in jazz was the late Cedar Walton who wrote “Ojos de Rojo”. Fedchock has spun the number into a Latin turn, that bristles with energy, all helped by percussionist Bobby Sanabria. Pianist Allen Farnham dishes a strong solo in the manner of Walton, which leads to trumpeter Scott Wendholt showing some fire. Another Latin number is “Havana”, but with the dial turned down a little. Fedchock opens the proceedings with some rich playing over the band, as it executes the bolero rhythm. The theme continues with Mark Vinci’s flute, offering a lyrical contrast to the mellow trombone.

The Duke Ellington number “Just Squeeze Me” is a perfect foil for Scott Robinson, as he draws out his willowy baritone sax  with easy-going agility. The final track “Ten Thirty 30”  was commissioned from Fedchock for the Clifford Brown Symposium. As Fedchock explains in the liner notes, all the thematic material for the composition was drawn exclusively from Brown’s music and solos. Trumpeter Scott Wendholt is a player of  profuse control, who solo is clearly Brown inspired. Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry carries a developing vamp to a sold conclusion, as the band takes the composition out.

TrackList: You And The Night And The Music; Like It Is; Never Let Me Go; Just Sayin’; Ojos De Rojo; Hair Of The Dog; Havana; Just Squeeze Me; For Heaven’s Sake; Ten Thirty 30

—Pierre Giroux

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