Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New World Jazz Composers Octet

New World Jazz Composers Octet Breaking News (Big and Phat Jazz BPJ 1022)
Led by Boston-based saxophonist Daniel Ian Smith, this group has established itself over the past few years and two previous CDs as a leading voice in composing and playing contemporary jazz to a very high standard. Among the musicians in the band are trumpeters Ken Cervenka and Walter Platt, saxophonist Felipe Salles, pianist Tim Ray, bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa, drummer Mark Walker and percussionist Ernesto Diaz. On this CD are compositions by Matthew Nicholl, Jeff Friedman and Richard Lowell as well as Walter Platt. Everything hereon is written and played with considerable intelligence and flair, from the thoroughly engaging solos to the tight and powerful ensembles, all of which come together to exhilarating effect. Especially appealing is the three-movement suite, Trilogy, composed by Ted Pease and paying tribute to pastmasters of jazz composition, Thad Jones, Billy Strayhorn and Bill Holman. The three movements are entitled, respectively, Thad’s Pad, Strays and Willis. The composer’s skill is evident from the manner in which he evokes the musical style of the dedicatees, finding punchy mainstream power in the first movement, romantically melodic charm in the second, and updated west coast bounce in the closer. This exceptionally attractive CD should appeal to all those who appreciate a contemporary twist on the important qualities of the past, qualities that the musicians Daniel Ian Smith has assembled clearly admire and respect.

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