The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy

by | Dec 7, 2014 | Jazz CD Reviews

The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy, 64:49 ****1/2:

(Tommy Igoe – drums, programming; Dewayne Pate – bass; Colin Hogan – piano; Drew Zingg – guitar; Louis Fasman – lead trumpet, Flugelhorn; Steffen Kuehn – trumpet, Flugelhorn; Dave Len Scott – trumpet, Flugelhorn; Nick Ciardelli – trumpet, Flugelhorn; John Gove – lead trombone; Jeanne Geiger – trombone; Mike Rinta – bass trombone; Marc Russo – alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Tom Politzer – tenor saxophone; Alex Murzyn – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Aaron Lington – baritone saxophone; with guest artists Randy Brecker – trumpet (9); Kenny Washington – vocals; James Genus – bass (1); Michael League – bass (10); Karl Perazzo – Latin percussion (8,10); Scott Kettner – Brazilian percussion (5,7))

In New York City, Tommy Igoe made a name for himself as a modern big band jazzman. His sophisticated ensemble was anchored by his drumming at the legendary club, Birdland. He has performed on tour with acts like The Doobie Brothers, Santana, Tower Of Power, Boz Scaggs and Steely Dan. He wrote the drum set book for Disney’s Lion King, also performing as principal drummer and associate conductor for the Broadway show. Over the last decade, he has been involved in music education and written critically-received workshop materials. Now, Igoe has formed a West Coast edition of his big band, and is a staple on the San Francisco scene. To the delight of his fans, he has released an album of diverse big band material.

The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy gets off to a blazing start with “Mercy Mercy Mercy”. Written by Joe Zawinul for Cannonball Adderley, it became an unexpected hit. Wrapped in a tight soul groove, the Teddy Firth arrangement is broad and features Marc Russo (alto saxophone) and Tom Politzer (tenor saxophone).  The muscular instrumentation accentuates the chorus refrains. The following track, “Friday Night” is big band swing with some jagged rock guitar (Drew Zingg). John Grove unleashes a scintillating trombone run before the band answers with a sharp tempo. Politzer wails on tenor saxophone as the percussive arrangement explodes into swing and syncopated tempo breaks that include some Igoe drum fills. The furious ending reunites the electric guitar with the band. The group’s take on Joshua Redman’s “Jazz Crimes” is stellar, drawing on a ’70s fusion vibe (like Tom Scott/La Express). The momentum of the music is propulsive and never lets up until a mid-song soul transition that leads into another explosive group run.

There are two vocal tracks on the album with Kenny Washington. “Let The Good Times Roll” was originally recorded by Louis Jordan in 1946 as a jump blues song. Igoe’s version has the large ensemble swagger of the Ray Charles cover. Straight ahead high octane rhythm and blues with an assist on alto by Russo still fits this song like a glove. But “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” (from the Broadway musical Pal Joey) is anything but conventional. Fronting a salsa jam, Washington’s singing (including some jazzy vocalese) is breezy and soulful. Aaron Lington’s baritone saxophone is gritty and is followed by a nimble percussive solo on piano by Colin Hogan. Hogan also shines on Quincy Jones” “Jessica’s Day” with inventive drumming by Igoe.

A “souped up” rendition of Arturo Sandoval’s “Capichosos De La Haban” showcases festive solos (trumpet/Dave Len Scott, trombone/John Gove). The band sparkles on another Latin number, “Aquele Um” which includes Steffen Kuehn on trumpet and flugelhorn. Igoe and his band interact flawlessly. There are two original compositions. “Plan B” is a full-bodied orchestration that has a feverish solo on trumpet by “guest conspirator” Randy Brecker. It channels the classic sound of big band jazz. On a funkier, groove (with a bass opening by Michael League) “Quarter Master” is expanded to include Brazilian percussion (Scott Kettner and Karl Perazzo) and a trio of trombonists (Gove, Jeanne Geiger and Mike Rinta). There is a show-stopping drum/ percussion transition and New Orleans inspired celebration that brings the album to a rousing close.

Big band music is alive and thriving!

TrackList: Mercy Mercy; Friday Night At The Cadillac Club; Jazz Crimes; Let The Good Times Roll; Aquele Um; Jessica’s Day; Caprichosos De La Habana; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; Plan B; Quarter Master

–Robbie Gerson

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