Dave Lalama – The Dave Lalama Big Band – The Hofstra Project

by | May 27, 2013 | Jazz CD Reviews

Dave Lalama -The Dave Lalama Big Band – The Hofstra Project – self produced, 73:04 *****:

(Dave Lalama – piano; Dave Pietro – lead alto sax, soprano sax, flute;  Jonathan Holland – alto saxophone; Ralph Lalama – tenor saxophone; John Marshall – tenor saxophone; Jeff Lange – baritone saxophone; Leon Petruzzi – lead trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Rubenstein – trumpet, flugelhorn (lead on “Inner Urge”); Glenn Drewes – trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13); Nathan Warner – trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 1, 2, 4, 8, 12) Mike Carubia – trumpet, flugelhorn; John Mosca lead trombone; Brent Chiarello – trombone; Joey Devassy – trombone; Justin Camilo  – bass trombone; Pete Coco – bass; Tony Tedesco – percussion; Ray Colon – drums.

Dave Lalama is a pianist performer, educator, composer, arranger and the right man for this ambitious project.  He holds multiple degrees in composition from New York University (NYU) and Youngstown State University.  He is a founding faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music jazz program.  He is a professor at Hofstra University.  It takes more than that to produce a good Big Band album.  This is an excellent album.  The reason I think is his “work” experience.  He has performed, composed for several of the great big bands and performers such as Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Woody Shaw, Dizzy Gillespie.  He has performed with Anita O’Day, Stan Getz, and more, as well as being a guest with Marian McPartland on her radio show

The Hofstra Project album is the combined efforts of many musicians with a variety of experience in music.  Several of the players Dave calls “Elders” are musicians who started with many of the Big Bands of note from the sixties and seventies.  This Big Band is made up of  musicians of “Hofstra alumni, faculty and guest musicians”.  I must say after listening to this album, the “WOW” factor is there.  Dave Lalama wrote in his liner notes “The music presented here has been chosen to embody the past 28 years of Jazz Art Music-making that attempts to strike a healthy balance between ensemble discipline and improvisational freedom”.

Dave has arranged the music well forming the strong line sound in the brass and reed sections.  His arranging includes as promised the freedom of improvisation in the solo work of the various musicians.

“Full House”, the opening number is a real swinger, and toe tapper with plenty of call and response between the saxes and brass.  There are many solos from the different players with that wonderful hard playing bop sound.  Interspersed are several sections where the saxes harmonize in unison which is a sound I heard often in the Woody Herman “Herd” bands.  “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love”, a Charles Mingus rendering is a kaleidoscope of  sound between the sax and brass sections with lots of icing of he solos in between and background riffing in the brass.  “Pent-Up House” is a slower ballad sound of Sonny Rollins and quite nice.

I could not help but notice through the album that I heard familiar strains and sounds of styles like were used by  Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus and many others that sparks a real interest in the compositions which I think is what Dave Lalama is showcasing of Big Band music over the decades.

There is much to enjoy from this album for the listener who has never been exposed to Big Band to those of us who remember the Big Bands through history.

The Hofstra Project is a high quality album both in sound and information through the liner notes.  Many of the songs have a familiar sound and very pleasant arrangement of the music.  The musicians are spotless in their performance.

TrackList:  Full House; Where Are You; No Evidence; Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love; Inner Urge; Pent-Up House; Moody’s Mood for Love; St. Thelonius; Tricotism; The Song Isn’t You; The Peacocks; Blues For…; Evansville.

—Tim Taylor

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