TCU Texas Christian University Jazz Ensemble – Limelight – Sea Breeze Vista (2 discs)

by | Mar 4, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

TCU Texas Christian University Jazz Ensemble – Limelight – Sea Breeze Vista – SBV (2) 4594, Disc 1-74:29; Disc 2-74:46 *****:

(This is a compilation album of TCU’s Monday-Wednesday-Friday “Noon” Band from 2008 to 2010.  The musician personnel list is an aggregate of all the musicians involved through that time period.)

(Curt Wilson – Director; Trumpets: Sarah Bauza, Steven Beatrice, Micah Bell, Andrew Fowler, Ryan Gilbert, Russ Robinson, Drew Tally.  Trombones:  Jon Bell, Randal Bryant, Joellen Carr, Patrice French, Brian Lamb, Bennett Parsons, Scott Sidway.  Bass Trombone:  Thomas Knapp.  Saxophones:  Preston Lewis – alto, soprano; Nick Rew – alto; Mike Korson – tenor; Peyton Bryant – tenor; Josh Klinck – baritone.  Rhythm:  Stephen Holcomb – piano; Justin Brown – bass; Michael Rareshide – drums; Richard Shafer – drums; Steven Washington II- drums; Will Flores – guitar; Jose Luis Quintero – guitar)

TCU has had a long standing history of support of the jazz genre for many years.  They have hosted an annual jazz festival since 1978 at their campus.  They have had many well known professional musicians who have worked and performed with the TCU Jazz Ensemble.  They have hosted many outstanding professional bands such as Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, Mike Vax’s “TRPTS”, the Jim Widner Big Band, Bill Watrous Quartet, the Stan Kenton Alumni Band directed by Mike Vax, Andy Martin Quartet, Cedar Walton Quartet, and numerous others.  They have consistently received many accolades several of which have been from Down Beat Magazine and have produced 19 albums through the years.

Limelight in my estimation would be an excellent recruiting album for future students to TCU.  This is a great sounding and performed album for big band enthusiasts.  I found it eclectic in that there were nostalgic big band hits and some newer tunes well performed.  There are such a host of really great soloists throughout the album.

On disc one, “Limelight” is a Gerry Mulligan tune, and the leadoff track as well as the title track.  The trombone soloist, Scott Sidway blew me away with trombone the way I love to hear it and I thought “how does he do that?”  “Mexican Jumping Beans” was composed/arranged by a past student and now TCU saxophone professor, Mario Cruz who performed the solo work on tenor sax.  It has great a Latin beat to it and solo by Cruz on tenor and alto sax solo by Joe Eckert which are flawless and quick moving.  The ensemble handles the ballads as well.  Ray Nobles “I Hadn’t Any One ‘Til You" has a great voicing sound from the sax and brass section with Preston Lewis lyrically playing solo on alto sax.  Sweet!  The next track comes back with a hot “Jumping at the Woodside” a standard Count Basie tune.  Moving to newer music, the ensemble takes on Matt Catingub’s “Queen City Shuffle”, a delightful shuffle style.  John Clayton’s “Plunger Mute Syndrome”, long a favorite of mine has excellent presentation of the brass section and a great trombone solo again by Scott Sidway.  Further in the disc is a neat little tune called “Gumbo Street”.  It is sort of a big band sound with the drummer offering a touch of New Orleans – second line touch at times.

Disc two continues with great playing by the ensemble.  There is a nice version of Tizol/Ellington’s Caravan.  This starts with a sort of concert band sound and then steps out in some great swing and drum work.  Moving to “Kenton Kollage” (arranged by Bob Cumow); what a fitting ending.  I heard most every famous song in the collage that Kenton fans loved as I. 

The sound quality of this album is excellent.As I moved through these discs, the word “Wow” comes to mind.  TCU obviously has a very outstanding and worthwhile music department and the result filters out to us in the music world.  How great is that!

Track List Disc #1:
  Limelight;  Mexican Jumping Beans;  I Hadn’t Anyone ‘Til You;  Jumpin’ at the Woodside;  Queen City Shuffle;  I’m Getting Sentimental Over You;  Two Steps Forward One Step Back;  Frog Lips;  Plunger Mute Syndrome;  I Remember You;  Fat Juicy Burger;  Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea;  Gumbo Street;  In a Mellow Tone.

Track List Disc #2:  People and Places;  Speak Low;  Under the Influence;  Not by a Country Mile; Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah; Caravan; Stars Fell on Alabama;  Front and Center;  Be – Bop Charlie;  Kiss;  When You’re Smiling;  Emily;  Kenton Kollage.

— Tim Taylor

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