Bill Lowe/Andy Jaffe Repertory Big Band – An Imperfect Storm – Big Round Records

by | Jan 18, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Bill Lowe/Andy Jaffe Repertory Big Band – An Imperfect Storm – Big Round Records – BR8907, 70:35 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

(Note:  This recording is two separate sessions.  The two group’s selections are mixed together under the above-titled band name.)

(Bill Lowe/Andy Jaffe Big Band – Tracks 1, 3, 6, 7, 13, 14.  Andy Jaffe – conductor, arranger; Trumpets: Mike Jones [lead], Rob Faulkner [also flugelhorn], Ricky Alfonso, Jamie Finegan;  French Horn: John Clark;  Trombones: Tim Atherton, Peter McEachern, Ed Byrne, Bill Lowe (also tuba);  Saxes: Thomas Chapin, Kenneth Hollman (alto), David Bindman, Philippe Crettien (tenor), Dominic Poccia (baritone);  Vocals: Kitty Kathryn;  Drums: Claire Arenius; Piano: Tom McClung;  Bass: Mike Marcus;  Guitar: Freddie Bryant.
The Slovak Radio Orchestra – Tracks 2, 4, 5, 8 – 12.  Kirk Trevor – Conductor;  Trumpets:  Juraj Bartos, Ondrej Jurasi, Juraj Lehotsky, Jaromir Hnilicka;  Trombones: Frantisek Karnok, Mojmir Barteck, (Peter Hnedkovsky and/or Michal Motyl and/or Svatopluk Kosvanec);  Saxes: Jir Kulisev, Gunter Koci (alto), Stepan Markovic, Rudo Brezina (tenor), Pavel Pivarci (baritone);  Guitar: Matus Jakabcic;  Bass: Juraj Griglak;  Drums: Kamil Slezak; Piano: Tom McClung, Andy Jaffe (track 5))

Andy Jaffe is a man of many professional hats.  He is a well known teacher and active jazz composer, performer and recording artist.  He has been a leader in jazz teaching over a quarter of a century.  He is currently the Director of Jazz Activities at Williams College, a liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  He has taught at Berklee College of Music, The University of Massachusetts, Amherst graduate program in Afro-American Music and Jazz, and many more halls of higher learning.  Andy Jaffe has many achievements and awards as well as publications.  

An Imperfect Storm is an album of music where all but one of the songs is arranged by Andy Jaffe and seven of those songs are Andy Jaffe compositions.  The album opens with the Matt Dennis tune, “Will You Still Be Mine”.  The big band opens and fires with a salvo from trombone on the intro of strong brass and reed dominated big band sound.  The melody comes in and the band drops its volume a bit moving through great solos from drummer Claire Arenius, through tenor and alto sax and last solo by trombone.  The rest of the band swings harmonically together in between solos on the melody.  The Slovak Orchestra plays tight in all sections with piano solo work from Tom McClung on Dizzy Gillespie’s “Woody ‘n You”.  The Big Band next step up with a Latin rhythm piece of Bud Powell’s called “Un Poco Loco”.  It is a fast moving piece with some wild sax and trombone solo work. 

The Slovak Orchestra really swings out nicely on Andy Jaffe’s “P. St.” with great solos from the sax and trumpet and again, they play really tight together.  They continue the same on “Doxology”.  The Fats Domino tune “I’m Walkin’ opens appropriately with a nice swinging piano part backed by the Big Band and breaks into a great vocal by Kitty Kathryn.  The Big Band performs tracks eight through twelve and are listed under a heading of “Portaculture” that are linked together with guest soloists Richard Stoltzman – clarinet; Bruce Williamson – clarinet, alto & soprano sax; Bob Weiner, percussion, drums. The group is a nice ensemble sounding a bit like variations in mood music and very pleasant.  The Big Band finishes off the last two tracks.  Nat King Coles “Straighten Up and Fly Right” swings nicely with Kitty Kathryn doing the vocals.  “Blue Whale” is Bill Lowe’s composition with him blowing on the tuba.  It is a nice tune that shows off the Big Band nicely.  The band is really tight on this bluesy tune and swings.

An Imperfect Storm is a product of two groups of accomplished jazz-loving musicians coming together a world apart playing with heart and putting on a great set of performances that meld together under the influence of Andy Jaffe who is involved in all the performances.  The liner notes only list the musicians and credits.  

TrackList:  Will You Still Be Mine?;  Woody ‘n You;  Un Poco Loco;  P. St.;  Doxology;  I’m Walkin’;  Old Folks;   [Portaculture] I. Fuse, II. Before Midnight Tomorrow, III. Orb, IV. Aubade, V. Yther; Straighten Up and Fly Right; Blue Whale Blues

— Tim Taylor

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