Posts Tagged ‘ Big Band Jazz ’

Dino & Franco Piana Ensemble – Open Spaces

Dino and Franco Piana founded the formation Dino & Franco Piana Ensemble. Dino is the father of Franco, both are living and working in Rome. Since more than 10  years they are working with AlfaMusic and have already released three albums on this label. As Dino and Franco Piana Sextet they released Seven in 2012, followed by Seasons (2015) and Open Spaces (2020).

One can classify their style as progressive Big Band sound and by reading the credits one quickly recognizes that the brass element plays a major role in their music. Spiritus rector of this formation is Franco Piana, who also wrote all the compositions for the new album.

The structure of the album is reminiscent of classical works, although musically there are no references to classical music. The title project splits into four sections, Opening and Variations I-III. The first intonation suggests an opening in the usual Big Band style. Dino’s trombone, Franco’s flugelhorn and Lorenzo Corsi’s flute alternate in small solo interludes before the full harmonic unison of all instruments spreads pleasant goose bumps.

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U-Nam – U-Nam Goes Big Band

Guitarist U-Nam is commonly known for his skillful reinterpretation of the style of George Benson and Nile Rodgers, which runs through many of his albums. His recourse to the funky music of the 70s and 80s is also popular. But with his new album U-Nam Goes Big Band (2020) he now falls back on the traditional big band music as known from Duke Ellington or Glen Miller.

The album is based on a collaboration between U-Nam and the Lutz Krajenski Big Band. The band leader Lutz Krajenski has already performed with Tom Jones, Ulrich Tukur, Roachford, Inga Rumpf, Udo Jürgens, Randy Crawford, Jasmin Tabatabai, Mousse T and more. One can therefore speak of a pronounced tendency towards popular music, which has been translated into the language of jazz.

U-Nam performs on this album lead and whawha guitar, Lutz “Hammond” Krajenski acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes keyboards and band leader, Thorten Benkenstein, Phillip Kacza & Nicolas Boysen trumpet and flugelhorn, Gunter Bollmann & Andreas Barkhoff trombone, Sebastian Hoffmann bass trombone, Bjorne Berger & Fiete Felsh alto sax, Gabriel Coburger & Ben Kraef tenor sax, Bjorne Berger, Fiete Felsh, Gabriel Coburger & Edgar Herzog flute, Bjorne Berger clarinet, Edgar Herzog bass clarinet,  and baritone sax, Sandra Hempel rhythm guitar, Peter Gall drums, Herve Jeanne double bass & electric bass, Rainer V. Egestoff mouth harp & vibes, Ricardo Padilla & Denis Benarrosh percussion,  Susanna Aleksandra & Steve Brookstein vocals.

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U-Nam – U-Nam Goes Big Band

There are only a few established artists who are capable of reinventing themselves and jazz guitarist and Billboard chart-topper U-Nam is certainly one of them. As if to prove it he will release the genre busting “U-Nam Goes Big Band”, 03/27/2020, on the Skytown Records label.

Coming off the back of a scintillating 2019 that saw him enjoy huge chart success with his 2 sensational albums “Future Love Parts 1 and 2” (that reached #20 on the Top25 Billboard Jazz Best Selling Album Chart and #8 in the Contemporary Jazz category) this is an exciting new direction for U-Nam to take but, with nine Top30 Billboard radio hits already to his name and an approach recognised as always innovative and often daring, his reputation for shaking the musical world to its core is already firmly in place.

“U-Nam Goes Big Band”, a sumptuous eleven track rendering of sophisticated mood jazz, is made even more enticing by the amazing back-story that first put it on U-Nam’s radar. A phone call to his Los Angeles studio from Estonian producer Mikk Targo is all it took. Targo, CEO and Founder of the Estonian Author Society EAU had, for the past several years, been working with a panel of music industry experts to select from what was generally regarded as the best one hundred songs Estonia has ever produced. As they did so a body of work emerged that was not only a glimpse into the nation’s musical heritage but also an outstanding showcase for the renowned Lutz Krajenski Big Band. Continue reading

Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band – An Elusive Man

Winning 4 Grammys and 20 Grammy nominations is a reliable indicator for constant and high-level professionalism. Gordon Goodwin built his fame with the Big Phat Band, a large 18-piece ensemble. Little Phat Band is his 8-member alternative.

Their debut album An Elusive Man is available since September 9, 2016. Beside Gordon (piano and tenor sax) are performing Wayne Bergeron (trumpet), Eric Marienthal (alto and tenor sax), Andy Martin (trombone), Andrew Synowiec (electric and acoustic guitar), Rick Shaw (electric and acoustic bass), Bernie Dresel (drums) and Joey De Leon (percussion).

The LP Shuffle is a striking example for a Big Band formation with natural energy and a blistering chemistry. The emphasis is on pure brass in straight swinging. Cot In The Act is full of fun and flavor with guitar and sax in expanding solos. But when the brass team gets underway, the music is reaching full steam.

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John Yao – Flip-Flop

Rather than call it a big band or orchestra, trombonist John Yao calls his ensemble his 17-piece instrument. This configuration’s first recording, Flip-Flop (See Tao Records, 2015) is indeed a big band release.

The 17 pieces are Yao, a five-piece saxophone section, four-piece trumpet and flugelhorn section, four-piece trombone section and three-piece rhythm section. The saxes are John O’Gallagher, alto, soprano and flute; Alejandro Aviles, alto and flute; Rich Perry, tenor; Jon Irabagon, tenor and clarinet; and Frank Basile, baritone and bass clarinet. The trumpets and flugels are John Walsh, Jason Wiseman, David Smith and Andy Gravish. The trombones are Luis Bonilla, Matt McDonald, Kajiwara Tokunori and Jennifer Wharton. And the rhythm players are Jesse Stacken, Bob Sabin and Vince Cherico.

The title song gets the action going from the first beat. It’s all in, with the horns and rhythm section, each providing high-energy thrills. A brief piano phrases interjects, then the full band goes full throttle. Eventually, there’s a gear shift for Perry to take point. He builds, signaling the other musicians to come back in, then hands it over to O’Gallagher. The alto screams at times, comparable to one of Kenny Garrett’s stretching out moments. Things become frantic when multiple saxes join in, overlapping one another. The song downshifts to something more placid, with one of the saxes accompanied only by piano, bass and drums. But that only lasts so long as the intensity builds again, and the other horns get involved. The bass gets a moment in the spotlight before the stellar finale.

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Maria Schneider Orchestra – The Thompson Fields

If you take a jazz big band and ease back off the throttle, then have a symphony orchestra that plays modern music, combine the two, you might get an idea of the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Schneider’s The Thompson Fields (2015) is the first recording she’s done with this ensemble in eight years.

A Grammy-winning composer, Schnieder has worked with many of the musicians for more than 25 years. With Schneider as conductor, the musicians are Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute and alto flute; Dave Pietro, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute, alto flute, bass flute and piccolo; Rich Perry, tenor sax; Donny McCaslin, tenor sax, clarinet and flute; Scott Robinson, baritone sax, bass clarinet, alto clarinet and clarinet; the quartet of Tony Kadleck, Greg Gisbert, Augie Haas and Mike Rodriguez, trumpets and flugelhorns; Keith O’Quinn, Ryan Keberle and Marshall Gilkes, trombones; George Flynn, bass trombone; Gary Versace, accordion; Lage Lund, guitar; Frank Kimbrough, piano; Jay Anderson, bass; Clarence Penn, drums; and Rogerio Boccato, percussion on “Lembranca.”

“The Monarch and the Milkweed” was inspired both by the monarch butterfly and the scenic beauty of the prairie in Minnesota. The track features solos by Gilkes and Gisbert. It’s a tranquil, majestic piece.

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