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Up from the Skies - Music of Jim McNeely

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

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Album Review

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra continues the tradition of excellence that was the core ingredient when it began life as the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra during the 1960s. Now led by pianist/conductor/composer/arranger Jim McNeely, the band brings life to his stimulating charts with tight ensembles and strong solos throughout the session. The first track is a bit of a surprise, a breezy jazz setting of rocker Jimi Hendrix's "Up from the Skies" that is a good bit more harmonically adventurous than the original record. The pianist's unusual blues "Life of Riley" showcases drummer John Riley and trombonist Luis Bonilla in a post-bop theme that constantly shifts into a new direction. His haunting ballad "In This Moment" has a melancholy air, with McNeely opening the work alone before giving way to Scott Wendholt's subdued but powerful flugelhorn. McNeely's three-part suite "One Question, Three Answers" features three tantalizing movements, with each one showcasing a pair of soloists. "Don't Even Ask" is a fluid post-bop vehicle featuring alto saxophonist Billy Drewes (one of Manhattan's first-call reedmen), McNeely and bassist Dennis Irwin, the latter in one of his last recordings with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra before losing his fight with cancer in early 2008.

Up from the Skies - Music of Jim McNeely, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
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  • 7,92 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 01 January 2006

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