Harmonic napalm as Kris Berg & The Metroplexity Big Band burn up the studio!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
There has been a strong resurgence in big band / jazz orchestra music over the past two years. That being said, there are still groups that are not coming even remotely close to cutting any new ground while instead embracing the ghosts from the past with a music that sounds as though it has been sanitized for your protection. Kris Berg's Time Management embraces the classic sound of yesterday but with a contemporary pop of energy that allows some of these original compositions to truly take flight and soar as standards for the next generation.
With cameos from such names as Phil Woods, Wayne Bergeron, and Denis Diblasio there is little doubt in term of the credibility or talent of Kris Berg. I don't review charts. The only audience that would care about charts would be that of professional musicians and I am confident they probably have the ability to figure out the charts without input from this critic. The arrangements from Berg pack a punch, swing hard or go home! "School of Thought" is foot to the floor intensity with a Latin section added for flavor and the insane trumpet work of Wayne Bergeron. "Squiggly" might best be though of as The Brecker Brothers on crack. I realize that might not be the most politically correct description but stay with me as the melodic line creates a quirky dissonance and the intensity of guitarist Andy Timmons only confirms that jazz guitarists or those attempting the medium can shred too! "Lifelong Friends" is perhaps more along the classic Stan Kenton sound but it is the lack of over production which has killed many an artist that allows this tune to breath. The title track "Time Management" shows off not only the compositional prowess of Berg but just how hot this band is as the manipulate meters into a minor blues and a conceptual look at the dynamic tension of everyday life.
Kris Berg is the real deal. A clinician for Yamaha, an arranger, and a solid instrumentalist find Berg as one of those rare improvisational triple threats that can let their wealth of experience and vision transfer to the recording studio with stellar results! One of the two finest large ensemble recordings I have heard this year!
Tracks: School of Thought; Squiggly; Yesterdays; Narnian Dance; Time Management; Kelsier; Lifelong Friends; One Block Off Easy Street; The Chicken (Remix).
Trumpets: Micah Bell All (Lead 4,5,6,7,8,9); Ken Edwards; Thomas Eby 2,5,6,7,8,9; Tyler Mire 2,9 (Lead on 2); Pete Clagett 5,8; Keith Jourdan 6,7; Lorenzo Trujillo 1,3,4 Lead (1,3) ; Wayne Bergeron 1,3,4 (Lead 1,3); Clay Jenkins 1,3,4.
Trombones: Tim McMillen 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9; Simon Willats 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9; Aaron Radar 1,3,4,7,8; A.G. Roberson 1,2,3,4,9; Milas Yoes 2,6,9; Michael Burgess 7,8; Nick Laufer 5; Carl Lundgren 5; Alex Dubrov 5; Matt Jefferson 5; Aric Schneller 6.
Saxophones: Bruce Bohnstengel: Alto & Soprano Saxophone, Flute; Sarah Roberts: Alto Saxophone, Flute 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9; Brian Clancy: Tenor Saxophone 1,3,4,6; Brian Gorrell: Tenor Saxophone 2,5,6,7,8,9; Kevin McNerney: Baritone Saxophone; Pete Gallio: Tenor Saxophone 1,3,4; Shelly Carroll: Tenor Saxophone 2,9; Jeff Robbins: Tenor Saxophone 7,8; Alan Burton: Tenor Saxophone 5; Denis DiBlasio: Baritone Saxophone 8; Phil Woods: Alto Saxophone7.
Rhythm Section: Stockton Helbing Drums; Kent Ellingson: Piano, Electric Piano, Hammond B-3 Organ 2,3,4,5,6,9; Brad Williams: Piano 7,8; Barb Catlin: Piano 1; Tom Burchill: Guitar 1,5,6,7,8; Andy Timmons: Guitar 2,9; Pete Weise: Guitar 3,4; Kris Berg: Bass