CD/DVD Reviews

“Sing, Sing, Sing” - PBS Music Of Your Life With Les Brown Jr. And His Band Of Renown Starring Neal McCoy DVD - November 8, 2011

   

"We Travel The Spaceways; The Music Of Sun Ra” - Planet D Nonet CD - 2010

2011 Detroit Music Awards Winner!

OUTSTANDING JAZZ RECORDING

   

A Space-age little big band from Detroit, the Planet D Nonet deliver a heart-felt tribute to the legendary Sun Ra. Guest tenor saxman Salim Washington (disc one) & Kenny Millions (disc two) really deliver the goods!

“Brush Fire” - Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra CD - December 2008

2009 Detroit Music Awards Winner!

OUTSTANDING JAZZ COMPOSER & OUTSTANDING TRADITIONAL JAZZ ARTIST/GROUP

    

SCOTT GWINNELL JAZZ ORCHESTRA:  BRUSH FIRE

TRACK:  Brush Fire

GROUP:  Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra

CD:  Brush Fire (WSG Records)

Musicians:  Scott Gwinnell (piano), Keith Kaminski (soprano sax solo), Justin Walter (trumpet solo), Scott Kretzer (drums), Shannon Wade (bass), James Hughes, Steve Wood, Carl Cafagna, Shannon Ford (sax section), Patrick Hession, Rich Fanning, Brandon Cooper (Trumpet Section), John Rutherford, Andy James, John Paxton (trombones).  Composed and arranged by W. Scott Gwinnell.

Recorded:  Detroit, Michigan, December, 2008

Rating:  95/100 - Classic performance. A “must have” for jazz fans.

Against impossible odds, the Detroit jazz scene remains hot and continues to forge world-class players and ensembles.  In the thick of it all you will find 34-year-old composer/pianist/author/educator Scott Gwinnell, who has played with heavy hitters from Joe Lovano to Dave Liebman as well as most of Motor City’s jazz elite.  His orchestra performs regularly at one of Detroit’s swankiest watering holes, the ultra-classy Cliff Bell’s.  Their second release, “Brush Fire,” offers moments of genuine spontaneous combustion, especially in the title track.

“Brush Fire” is a powerful, heady composition.  After an opening Romanesque fanfare the head begs comparison to Freddie Hubbard’s “Intrepid Fox,” though not quite as dark.  Once the form straightens out into an uplifting samba for the solos, Keith Kaminski spreads his wings in a sprightly soprano flight, followed by neo-cool ruminations by trumpeter Justin Walter.  A brief, almost melodic drum solo takes it back to the head, then out with Keith and Walter trading fours traded on the turnaround.  Overall the band is tight, the spirited arrangement lean, listenable and balanced.  Even those who are lukewarm on big band music should be sufficiently ignited by this brush fire.

Reviewer:  Bill Barnes

“Let the Trumpet Sound” - Kenneth Robinson & Dave Wagner CD - 2008

2009 Detroit Music Awards Winner!

OUTSTANDING CLASSICAL RECORDING & OUTSTANDING CLASSICAL SMALL ENSEMBLE

    

RadioIndy.com

Congratulations on GrIndie Award

RadioIndy is proud to present Kenneth Robinson & Dave Wagner a GrIndie Award for their CD "Let The Trumpet Sound." A GrIndie Award is RadioIndy's stamp of approval that this CD is an excellent quality CD. Please join us in congratulating this artist on this accomplishment.

    

Diane and The RadioIndy.com Reviewer Team

Outstanding Classical CD featuring pipe organ and trumpet virtuosos

Kenneth Robinson (Trumpet) and Dave Wagner (Organ) present “Let The Trumpet Sound” featuring Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar winning guest performers. This all-star album features guest artists such as Cuban trumpet star, Arturo Sandoval; Principal Trumpet Emeritus of the Chicago Symphony, Adolph Herseth; Principal Trumpet of the Boston Symphony, Charles Schlueter; and more. The CD was recorded in a cathedral, which gives it a more natural and bigger sound. The musicianship on the CD is outstanding, nicely using dynamics to add emotion to the tracks. The structured voice of the trumpet is contrasted by the pipe organ as the instrument producing harmony, form, and texture. As several forms on this album are Sonata’s, which is defined as a work for one or more instruments with several movements, the grandeur and magnificence between each instrument is a distinguishable feature. “Sonata a9: Sancti Polycarpi (featuring award winning guests)” is mastery and refinement at its best. The CD also includes an impressive track that is a classical-style tribute to the legendary Maynard Ferguson from alumnists and friends who perform on the CD. “Let The Trumpet Sound” moves the listener’s passions with masterpieces performed in a reverberant cathedral setting and is a must have addition to your classical CD collection.

“Trumpets Sound for Maynard” - International Musician Feature Article - September 2009

    

"On a High Note: Best of the Concord Jazz Recordings" - Maynard Ferguson CD - February 6, 2007

On-A-High-Note-The-Best-Of-The-Concord-Jazz-Record

    

“Maynard Ferguson Tribute” DVD - May 2007

    

This Double DVD Tribute Package includes the Maynard Ferguson Tribute Concert held September 20, 2006 at the University of Missouri Touhill Performing Arts Center in St. Louis and over 60 minutes of Historical Bonus Footage.

The featured concert from St. Louis brought together more than 30 alumni artists from Maynard’s sixty plus years of entertaining audiences around the world.  In a manner of words, the tribute was the ultimate symphony dedicated to a man so many called “The Boss.”  The DVD of the concert has a running time of over 120 minutes and also includes many great photos of Maynard throughout the years.

The second DVD includes more than an hour of bonus footage excerpts, many of which have never before been seen, from performances all over the world.  Recorded between 1950-2006, these excerpts demonstrate Maynard’s trumpet artistry and trademark exuberance as a world renowned bandleader.

A portion of the net proceeds from the DVD sales will go to the Maynard Ferguson Music Scholarship Fund at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.

“The One and Only Maynard Ferguson” - Maynard Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau Band CD - September 2007

    

JazzTimes CD Review

MAYNARD FERGUSON AND HIS BIG BOP NOUVEAU BAND

The One and Only Maynard Ferguson (Maynard Ferguson Trust)

The reduced big band (four trumpets, three saxophones, trombone and rhythm), steered by lead trumpeters Wayne Bergeron and Patrick Hession, performs a collection of fresh-sounding standards and originals with precision and utmost musicality.

“Maynard Ferguson:  MF Horn VI:  Live at Ronnie’s” CD - March 2006

Maynard Ferguson: MF Horn VI: Live at Ronnie's

    

all about jazz

By Jack Bowers | MF Music (2007)

In August 2005, when Maynard Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau recorded MF Horn VI at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, no one could have known or even suspected that the trumpet legend would pass away one year later, shortly after a series of sold-out concerts at New York City's Blue Note nightclub and another recording session with BBN, this one a studio date in Englewood, New Jersey.

There's a saying about cowboys and westerners who lived life to the fullest that "they died with their boots on. Maynard Ferguson died almost literally with his horn to his lips, which is quite appropriate, as that's how several generations of jazz fans remember him, exuberantly leading a band while producing those incredible high notes that were not only his signature but placed him among trumpet players in a class by himself.

By the time MF Horn VI, his first live album in a dozen years, was recorded the high notes were few and far between, as Maynard let the youngsters in his band do much of the heavy lifting, but he was then 77 years old, and certainly entitled to a breather. He was smart and affluent enough to hire the best up-and-coming sidemen he could find, and modest enough to realize that people no longer expected him to shatter glass but were happy to see and hear a showman who so clearly loved what he was doing and always gave them their money's worth in terms of decibels and excitement.

There are some talented newcomers in this edition of BBN and a few holdovers including trombonist/music director Reggie Watkins and lead trumpeter Patrick Hession. There's even a distinguished alumnus, Denis DiBlasio, sitting in on baritone sax. One of the newbies, pianist Jeff Lashway, is a real find, while veteran drummer Stockton Helbing continues his steady improvement.

After "Blue Birdland ushers Maynard onstage, the well-structured program opens with Jobim's "The Girl from Ipanema and closes with the mandatory "MF Hit Medley (at 11:47 the album's second-longest track). Sandwiched between them are Slide Hampton's classic "Frame for the Blues, the lovely Johnny Burke / Jimmy van Heusen ballad "But Beautiful (on which Maynard is featured most prominently), Miles Davis' fire-breathing "Milestones, Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer's "I'm Old Fashioned (featuring a dazzling four- minute intro by Lashway on which he quotes liberally from the Gershwins' "A Foggy Day ), and a grungy Alan Baylock original, "Blues from Around Here, on which DiBlasio unleashes his remarkable chops on the baritone and wows the audience with his Clark Terry-style scat-singing.

While DiBlasio alone is worth the price of admission, there's far more to be appreciated, not least of which is the fact that the young musicians in BBN are first-class and that their peerless leader knew how to please an audience. To the very end, Maynard Ferguson was an awe-inspiring presence, and no less so here.

Track Listing: Blue Birdland; The Girl from Ipanema; Frame for the Blues; But Beautiful; Milestones; I’m Old Fashioned; Blues from Around Here; MF Hit Medley; Blue Birdland (73:40).

Personnel: Maynard Ferguson: trumpet, leader; Reggie Watkins: trombone, music director; Patrick Hession, Ernie Hammes, Peter Ferguson: trumpet; Julio Monterrey: alto sax; Matt Parker: tenor sax; Denis DiBlasio: baritone sax; Jeff Lashway: piano; Craig Butterfield: bass; Stockton Helbing: drums.

Record Label: MF Music

Style:  Big Band

“A-List” - Reggie Watkins CD - February 22, 2005

    

A-List: A Review

Kelly Beaman

Published: 2/22/2005

A-List JFP-CD01 Personnel: Reggie Watkins, trombone and compositions; Eugene Stovall, vocals; David Throckmorton, drums; James Johnson III, drums; Nathen Peck, electric and acoustic bass; Howard Alexander, piano and synthesizer; Eric Defade, tenor saxophone and flute; Rick Matt, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones; Patrick Hession, lead trumpet; Ken Robinson, trumpet; Ian Gordon, trumpet; Jamie Moore, trumpet; Craig "Izzy" Arlet, guitar; Alex Peck, tambourine; Scott McIntosh, alto saxophone; Carmello Torres, percussion. Selections: Three Girls On Two Chairs, Weight For Six, You Don't Know What Love Is, Molero, Sittin' Here In My Room, Whisper Not, December Twentieth, Two Colors, Ask Me Know, Star Jive.

It was a pleasure to hear and review this fine freshman production effort by virtuoso trombonist Reggie Watkins, a musician with a full arsenal of tools at his disposal: an extensive (but not overly used) range, beautiful tone, terrific melodic concepts and excellent compositional and arranging chops. Even more impressive is his ability to compile a diverse and compelling set of works, produced on the fly over a short 3 day recording schedule, made even more challenging by the level of difficulty of these works. Thankfully, his fellow musicians made the process seemingly effortless, and one could tell that this was truly a team effort under Watkins’ leadership. It’s great to hear Patrick Hession’s fine lead playing again for the first time since our summer at Disney World just a few years back. The production team, highly praised by Watkins in the liner notes, was equally deserving of such, but I’m sure they appreciated the quality of the original material.

The mix of music, melodies and instrumentation is fresh, and upon continued listening, increasingly enjoyable, not necessarily to imply an acquired taste. The selections include everything from early ‘60s styled big band bebop to current instrumental pop grooves, a couple of passionate vocals featuring Eugene “Eugenious” Stovall and also some great Latin jazz for good measure.

The disc commences with a fairly commercial funk tune entitled Three Girls on Two Chairs, a curious heading (and I suppose there may be a related joke) which grabs your attention as does the punctuated intro giving way to a nicely balanced melody, countermelodies in the bone and tenor sax and wa-wa guitar bridge. The signature Maynard sound is certainly present to include descending chromaticism in the chord structure and of course a killer high “C” in the interlude preceding the lovely Rhodes piano and slightly plungered trumpet solo. Some nice layering action takes you back to the head, followed by some trumpet and keyboard interplay as the tune fades. There may be some potential here for airplay in the “smooth jazz” format.

All Blues comes to mind with the next track, Weight for Six, and the now scaled down combo ensemble and soloists all make the most of the comfortable groove laid out by the rhythm section. Very nice blend in the front line of trumpet, trombone and tenor with solos in that order. Jamie Moore’s trumpet solo stands out in particular in this selection with some extremely fluid lines, a little outside here and there but back inside in time for some metric modulation and a Scrapple from the Apple quote, a tune also in the key of G, so it works out well idiomatically and musically. Watkins lends his fine solo to the track starting with a heralded entry and with a few musical nods to the late JJ Johnson and also a little Steve Turre. Bassist Nathan Peck provides a nimble approach to his solo prior to the front line’s return, climaxing with Watkins’ very solid high “F#” at the end.

The tenor soloist on the next track, You Don’t Know What Love Is superbly arranged by Paul Armstrong, demonstrates a solid understanding of Michael Brecker’s musical palette to include tone quality, vocabulary and special effects. This track features for the first time some fine flute work by Eric Defade in combination with a solo trumpeter (it’s not clear whom), beginning the trombone solo section which is also peppered with some hints at a Latin groove especially in the bridge. The unison shout chorus toward the end is inventive, well-played and appealing to the ear.

The subtle and at times mysterious Molero seems to take the listener on a journey to the Caribbean, complete with reggae stylings seemingly portraying banana boats en route to some distant and misty port of call. Beware, however, the encircling sharks in the darkest depths of the ocean possibly suggested by the mysterious horn voicings in the mid-section of the tune. Very impressive was the way in which keyboardist Howard Alexander splashed color and supple textures in support of the ensemble. This shows what a marvelous musician he is, further revealed by his solo work later in the tune, prior to the excellent drum solo by James Johnson III.

Eugene Stovall is on his way to being a major influence in the jazz world and Watkins was wise to select him for his two contributions. He is still a developing artist, at least in comparison with some of the greats and his lyrics could be less pedestrian, but I’m certain, having been accused of the same, these are lyrics that come from the heart, not to impress others, but to express his true inner feelings as evidenced by his highly emotional approach to both songs, Sittin’ Here in My Room (track 5) and December Twentieth (track 7). The first of these features Stovall as an angry and blue young man, rather similar to, but not nearly as expressive as, the second. Also dissimilar are the skills displayed in the two tracks, the first of which features Stovall’s Hip-Hop like vocal percussion (or VP in the vocal world) and scat effects, and the second of which features his extensive range – low F to excruciatingly high B, matched beautifully and effectively by the wailing guitar of Craig “Izzy” Arlet. Watkins turns in nice trombone background and provides excellent arranging for Sittin' Here In My Room and also composition for December Twentieth, possibly pushing the limits of Stovall’s capabilities. I hear many other great things to come from this collaborative team.

Turning back to track 6, we hear Mike Dubanewicz’s arrangement of Whisper Not, a demanding arrangement superbly performed by the larger instrumentation on this album and featuring the alto sax of Rick Matt and also Watkins. With hints at Hefti, the tune carries forth with a nice “Odd Couple” feel following a warm chorale introduction. Perhaps more indicative of the style is the direct quote in this tune from Groovin’ Hard, the well-known Don Menza big band composition. The trumpets feature some beautiful harmon mute work in the background of the head as well as Matt’s great “behind the beat” alto sax solo later on in the track. Just before that, Watkins says “hello!” with a full high “F” leading to some very nice ideas and a remarkably soft and very quiet double or doodle tongue passage that hooks the listener very well. A brilliant trumpet octave shout chorus finishes the tune out along with some very clean and tasty double-time bone solo passages and a spectacular closing high “G.”

In this next selection, Two Colors demonstrates Watkins’ appreciation for diversity, in this case featuring the colors of tenor and bone (no other horns on this track) and the style shift from Latin Funk to Salsa styled Latin jazz (possibly a 2/3 clave negro, but check the cascara in the drums and percussion toward the end of the track) following a great Latin percussion solo by Carmello Torres together with Johnson on drums. This is a very exciting track and a terrific one to include on this initial solo recording effort.

Before breaking forth into the final track, StarJive which features the ostinato pattern from Charlie Parker’s Star Eyes, Stovall’s VP technique, Arlet’s guitar, a fairly minimal orchestration (really a jam session) and an atmosphere possibly comparable to the late Sun Ra’s famous Hi Ho, Hi Ho presentation (hopefully you’ve witnessed this live or on television), Watkins offers his penultimate selection, a lovely arrangement for four horn combo of the Thelonious Monk ballad Ask Me Now in a very danceable arrangement, just the way Monk would have liked it. Trumpeter Jamie Moore renders the somewhat disjunct melody nicely and offers some nice cadenza work at the end, but not before Watkins makes his statement with pleasant ideas, phrasing and great facility on yet another impressive double-time passage. The ensemble is fairly tight and the tune lilts along in a very relaxed manner.

Overall, this is a great first effort. Look for much more from this talented group of musicians.

Samples from this incredible CD are on the Audio page.

“Festival Masterpieces for Trumpet and Organ” - Kenneth Robinson & Lawrence Przybysz CD - 2005

    

Baroque Music for Trumpet and Cathedral Pipe Organ representing virtuosic, and festive performances.

“Swingin’ For Schuur” -  Diane Schuur/Maynard Ferguson CD - 2001

    

CD Title: Swingin' For Schuur

Year: 2001

Record Label: (Concord Records) Concord Music Groups

Style: Jazz Vocals

Musicians: Diane Schuur, vocals. Maynard Ferguson, trumpet and flugelhorn. Various guest artists. Review: Congratulations to Concord Records for bringing together two giants of contemporary jazz, Diane Schuur and Maynard Ferguson, in the wonderfully eclectic big band sound of SWINGIN' FOR SCHUUR. This CD collection of 12 songs is a surefire hit, one that will attract many, many jazz listeners.

Selections include "Just One Of Those Things," "Besame Mucho," "Deep Purple," "Autumn Leaves," "My Romance," "Love Letters," "East Of The Sun and West Of The Moon," "Midnight Sun," "I Fall In Love Too Easily," "Lush Life," "Just Friends," and "Let's Fall In Love." Each song is filled with brilliant solo work from all performers. Schuur and Ferguson are a perfect jazz match!

Accompanying Schuur and Ferguson are the following fine musicians: Patrick Hession, lead trumpet; Paul Armstrong, trumpet; Peter Ferguson, trumpet & tour manager; Reggie Watkins, trombone; Mike Dubaniewicz, alto saxophone; Jeff Rupert, tenor saxophone; Denis DiBlasio, baritone saxophone; the stylish piano work of Jeff Lashway; Brian Stahurski, bass; and Brian Wolfe, drums.

This collection has so many memorble performances it is difficult to select personal favorites, but definitely these..."Deep Purple," "Autumn Leaves," "Midnight Sun," "Lush Life," "Let's Fall In Love," among others. This is a great listening experience.

SWINGIN' FOR SCHUUR is a winner, a perfect pairing of jazz greats Diane Schuur and Maynard Ferguson. A flawless recording, perfectly perfect jazz at its finest. If you like contemporary jazz in the big band vocal mode, this is a great CD collection to have in your personal CD library, or as a gift for a friend.

Tracks: "Just One Of Those Things," "Besame Mucho," "Deep Purple," "Autumn Leaves," "My Romance," "Love Letters," "East Of The Sun and West Of The Moon," "Midnight Sun," "I Fall In Love Too Easily," "Lush Life," "Just Friends," and "Let's Fall In Love"

Record Label Website: (www.concordrecords.com) www.concordmusicgroup.com

Reviewed by: Lee Prosser

    

Jim Bookhard

Posted: Sun May 02, 2004 2:17 am

Post subject: Diane Schuur and Maynard Ferguson - Swingin' For Schuur

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ever since I was about 5 or 6 years old, I spent almost every Sunday in New York City (courtesy of my parents taking me) to listen to some of the greatest names in Jazz including big band artists like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, performers like Louis Armstrong, Earl Garner, Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne. I can still remember listening to the big band musicians tuning their instruments before each performance began. All this was very reminiscent of my experiences in my childhood and in growing up listening to live jazz artists as I listened to the new Diane Schuur and Maynard Ferguson collaboration on Swingin' For Schuur.

I can't remember the last time I listened to a new CD from the beginning and listened to every selection to completion on the entire CD. This CD is absolutely outstanding! One thing this CD will tell you and that is if your system is performing up to par. Maynard's band of 11 musicians, including Patrick Hession who is lead trumpeter for Maynard's band, sounds more like a full big band orchestra on this CD. The arrangements of the classics on this CD are the best I've heard since listening live to big band orchestras when I was young. Every part of the music, from the lows of the acoustic bass to the bite of the trumpets on top along with the cymbals and everything in between is a part of the music and each is there for the listener to explore fully right along with the voice of Diane. Also, any musician on this album could have been a "headliner" on this CD because this band of Maynard's is definitely jammed packed with masterful artists of the trade. Each and every member of the band could easily be on the title of this CD. The CD starts off with the acoustic bass and Diane Schuur leading into "Just One Of Those Things." All the songs on this CD are classics of jazz. Diane is reminiscent of Sarah Vaughn, just as stated in the liner notes, on several of the arrangements, but the unique style of Diane's own way of singing jazz is there also.

The album could just have been Maynard's band alone or Diane alone. Thats just how good this CD is and how good the arrangements are. You can just sit there and pick out any instrument in the band (trumpet, drums, piano, sax, trombone, etc.) and follow every line played by that particular instrument as well as following Diane's voice.

If the bite of the trumpets is too much for you and you want to reach for ear plugs, it's not the CD, it's your system that's not performing properly. This CD is extremely well recorded from the weight at the bottom end to the instruments on top and everything in between. Rim shots on the drums are distinct, clear, and lifelike. The acoustic bass line is clean, powerful, and clear. And, the horns are simply magnificent -- good "bite" but smoothly recorded. And, the dynamics of the instruments and the music are maintained throughout the recording.

For those who like classic jazz and also big band jazz, this is a "must have" CD. For those who have never experienced classic or big band jazz, here's a good place to start. You definitely won't be bored. I just hope your system can serve up all this recording has to offer, it's really that good. I don't give a lot of praise to a lot of recordings nor to a lot of artists, but I do here because that praise is more than deserving to Maynard, his band, Diane, the arrangers and the recording people behind the scenes.

My hat's off to you, Patrick.

_________________

Jim Bookhard

"UNLV Wind Symphony 1994"

    

Patrick performed a piece called “Report” with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Wind Symphony at the College Band Directors National Association conference in Reno, Nevada on Thursday, March 17, 1994.

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