Jim Stranahan deconstructs the stereotypical big band sound with amazing results!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Typical big band? Define typical. Intense lyrical flow and room to move highlight Migration To Higher Ground. The slightly more open ended arrangements allow for a the ensemble cast to move freely and make their own unique lyrical contributions. Players of note include trumpet titan Brad Goode and Stranahan's son Colin from the critically acclaimed trio Stranahan / Zaleski / Rosato. This is straight ahead big band with a boiling swing but a more cosmopolitan execution than similar ensembles.
From the panache of the Afro-Cuban opener "Mambo Facil" to a dynamic cover of the Charlie Parker classic "Donna Lee" the mood set is inspiring and the horns are given free reign to traverse the harmonic high ground unencumbered. "Bayou Bounce" may be the jewel in this lyrical crown with inspiration drawn from NOLA's Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ben Foust's tuba bass line is incendiary! The previously mentioned trio of Stranahan / Zaleski / Rosato join Stranahan for a eclectic mash up of the Monk flavored "Blues and a Half." The iconic Sonny Rollins is masterfully manipulated with mangling the melody in a pretentious reharm that could do little to improve upon perfection. Stranahan tweaks the Rollins tune and makes it his own while showing an artful vision of how simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.
There is no doubt that big band has reemerged from the shadows and thanks to artists such as Jim Stranahan the genre will get that well deserved second chance at life. Solid, adventurous, and embracing a slightly more global swing, Migration To Higher Ground is a winner!
Tracks: Mambo Facil; Bayou Bounce; Paul and Dave; Migration To Higher Ground; Blues And A Half; In Your Own Sweet Way; St. Thomas; Straight From The Source; Donna Lee.
Personnel: Jim Stranahan: Alto and Soprano Saxes, Saxophone cadenza on Mambo Facil, Soprano and Tenor Saxes; Caleb Starbuck: Alto Sax; Joe Anderies: Alto Flute and Tenor Saxophone; Chuck Schneider: Tenor Saxophone; Brad Good: Lead and Jazz Trumpet; Hugh Ragin: Jazz Trumpet; Wade Sander: Trombone; Ben Faust: Sousaphone (2); Justin Adams: Piano; Mike Abbott: Guitar; Bijoux Barbosa: Bass; Todd Reid: Drums.
Jim Stranahan: Soprano, Alto and Tenor Saxes; Brad Goode: Trumpets; Wade Sander: Trombones; Glen Zaleski: Piano; Rick Rosato: Bass; Colin Stranahan: Drums.