Budman / Levy Orchestra – From There To Here – OA2 22087 ****:
The Michael Treni Big Band – Boy’s Night Out – The Bell Production Co. [4/17/12] ****:
Alex Budman, who plays reeds in this aggregation, points out in his notes that during the mid-2000s a number of musicians from around the U.S. settled in Los Angeles and played in various big bands. Some of them with similar musical sensibilities found one another and this fine band is the result. Both Budman and trombonist Jeremy Levy create original material for the band, but since some of Budman’s work was already released on a CD with the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra in San Francisco, the two made this album all originals from Levy.
The orchestra was formed in 2007 and with the variety of great tunes and arrangements from both leaders has become an important West Coast musical group. Levy is fearless as an arranger: “Zona Mona” comes from Bela Fleck and the Flektones, and he arranged it as if it were being performed by the Pat Metheny Group. “Miller Time” is a tribute to his composition teacher, and “Superbone Meets the Bud Man” is a takeoff on Maynard Ferguson and shows off the talents of both Levy and his co-leader, on trombone and reeds. The ninth track, “Waiting,” is a touching ballad written when Levy’s girl friend was leaving for a year in San Francisco. It has a string quartet providing the string section, and is beautifully arranged. The four trombones and four trumpets/Flugelhorns of the band give the other numbers a real impact, but the big climaxes are exciting and melodic.
Trombonist-composer-arranger Michael Treni has put together a winner of a big band in the Count Basie style. As a punctuation stickler, I need to point out that unless he really intends his album’s title to refer to just one boy’s night out (which seems contrary to the sense of the big band members), he has the apostrophe in the wrong place! Treni walked away from the music business in New York in the late 80s and founded a company making wireless audio and language systems. About nine years ago he returned to music, and working with reed player Roy Nicolosi assembled the Michael Treni Big Band from some of the top New York musicians. This is his fourth album and things are really sizzling. His favorite composer is Oliver Nelson, but he also loves Mingus, Thad Jones and Gil Evans. The eight tracks here mix his originals with great arrangements of standards such as “Lullaby of Birdland” and “Here’s That Rainy Day.” He brings in a string trio on two of the selections: the latter, and “In My Quiet Time.” He’s obviously also a fan of Billy Strayhorn, including both his “U.M.M.G.” as well as Clare Fischer’s “Strayhorn.”
Both of these CDs show that big bands haven’t gone away and are a musical force to be reckoned with.
TrackList – BLO:
95 or 64, Miller Time, Zona Mona, From There to Here, It’s Like That, Idle Time, The Other One, Brand New Year, Waiting, Superbone Meets the Bud Man, Slings and Arrows
TrackList – Michael Treni:
Something’s Coming, Boy’s Night Out, Lullaby of Birdland, Strayhorn, IOn My Quiet Time, What is the World Coming To?, U.M.M.G., Here’s That Rainy Day
Mack Avenue Records released a stunning live album!