Kris Berg & The Metroplexity Big Band are charting a new course for the classic Big Band sound!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
A style of music that has been around for roughly seventy years sort of slipped quietly into the jazz witness protection program. The last three years have seen a resurgence of big band or jazz orchestra (the only difference being Stan Kenton and a couple of string players) and band such as Kris Berg & The Metroplexity Big Band are making formidable statements on the large ensemble stage. This Time / Last Year may be Berg's finest showcase for his individual prowess as he composed six of the nine tunes and skillfully handled all the arrangements.
Old school power with new school finesse and some notable cameos from Wayne Bergeron and Delfeayo Marsalis head a cast of notables also including Clay Jenkins and Chris Vadala. Berg has the uncanny ability to strike an emotive chord of lyrical passion in his work. While there is nothing ostentatious nor cliché about This Time / Last Year, the compositions are memorable and as the tunes are broken down and sometimes deconstructed a stellar cast of the very finest performers Texas can serve up more than fills the bill.
The arrangements on "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise" and the Wayne Shorter tune "Night Dreamer" are both bold excursions into some heavy weight material with huge payoffs. Throughout the release some more traditional big band arranging techniques are tweaked with the end result fresh, original and cutting edge. The Berg tune "Forgotten Thoughts" is yet another bold lyrical statement an extended blues infused number that could just as easily be waiting in the on deck circle of the Great American Songbook.
A spectacular effort. Highly recommended.
Tracks: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise; Games; This Time / Last Year; Forgotten Thoughts; RU Chicken; The Gentle Rain; Pah-Dah - Pah-Dah; Night Dreamer; I'm Okay, We're O.K.
Personnel: Trumpets: Wayne Bergeron: 2,4,7 (Lead on 2); Keith Jourdan: 1,3,4,6-8 (Lead on 1, 4, 6-8); Micah Bell: All (Lead 3,5,9); Ken Edwards: All, Jack Evans: 1,3,6,8; Tyler Mire: 2,4,7,9; Clay Jenkins: 1,3,8; Woodwinds: Tim Ishii: (Alto Sax & Flute) 1-4, 7, 8; Collin Hauser: (Alto Sax & Flute) 1-4, 6-9; Jeff Robbins (Tenor Sax, Flute, Alto Sax on 5,6) All; Brian Clancy: (Tenor Sax, Flute) All; Kevin McNerney (Baritone Sax, Tenor Sax on 6) All; Bruce Bohnstengel: (Alto Sax, Flute) 3,8,9; Sarah Roberts: (Alto Sax, Flute, Bass Clarinet) 6,8; Trombones: Michael Burgess: All; Chris Seiter: 1-4, 6-9; Simon Willats: 1,3,6,8,9; Milas Yoes: 2,4,7; A.g. Robeson: All; Rhythm Section: Stockton Helbing: Drums, All; Kent Ellingson: Piano: 1-5, 7-9; Roberto Verastegui: Piano: 6; Tom Burchill: Guitar: 1, 3-9; Noel Johnston: Guitar.