Saturday, February 2, 2013

Joe Clark Big Band Featuring Jeff Hamilton Jazzed 2013

Lush I have to admit that with the notable exception of about 6 releases over a two year time period, big band has become as predictable as smooth jazz. I did notice that all star drummer Jeff Hamilton was featured along with some not so standard fare including a Thelonious Monk and Billy Strayhorn cover both rarely attempted by a large ensemble.

Lush hits the streets on Feb. 12th, 2013.

Clark's original tunes are well thought out compositional gems with Jeff Hamilton handling the arrangement of Samba de Martelo to feature the drums. The remaining members of the group are some of Chicago's finest players with an attitude or flair fused from the popular New Orleans sound. More of a jazz collective with pianist Ryan Cohan, guitarist Mike Pinto and bassist Joe Policastro each adding their own artistic voice as well as being deeply involved in the evolution of one of the better big band records one can find. Joe Clark brings his formidable arranging skills front and center with the Nelson-Riddle inspired Lush Life. The sonic yen to the otherwise predictable yang for other more classic big band records would be the funky second line infused flavor of the classic Monk tune "Well You Needn't." Clark originals fit hand in glove with "Red Sky" seemingly a standard waiting to happen. The NOLA vibe kicks in on the Clark original "Free-Wheeling."

Let me lay it on the line, most big bands (since they are as crowded a group as female vocalists) do a quick run through of the expected for a quick pay day. While this may be conjecture on my part, Joe Clark appears to draw from a myriad of influence allowing for a three dimensional depth of field when one considers the sonic presentation put forth on this release. First call musicians, not forgetting the Grammy winning Hamilton dig deep looking for subtle nuances and the type of shading that gives depth and texture and frankly far more substance than the average big band.

An ebb and flow within each tune will have big band fans flocking to this release.

4 out of 5 Stars.

Tracks: Well You Needn't; Red Sky; Lush Life; Samba de Martelo; Free-Wheeling; Femme Fatale; Tenderly; Yesterday's Gardenias

Special thanks to Michael Bloom of Michael Bloom Media Relations.