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In Times Shadow

Rick Holland

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Album Review

The title of this set is an apt one. While much of the music presented by the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band, it hearkens back — in terms of its sophistication, confidence and outright jazz literacy, not nostalgically — to an era when progressive jazz, and big bands (this one numbering 10 pieces) flourished on the scene. This is one sophisticated outfit. Featuring the arrangement and compositional skills of Brent Wallarab, Jim Martin, Bill Dobbins and Kerry Strayer, this band struts out the tradition and make some joyous, complex, and elegant music that reflects its own unique identity. The résumés of all these players are impressive and reflected in the confidence of the date. It opens with "SUNY-Triangle," a Martin composition that works its artful sleight-of-hand over Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Triste." Martin uses the rhythmically complex samba and drapes some tough, knotty twists and turns over it. The intro is a beautiful and raucous wake-up call, while the head of the tune, with its staggered entrances and exits — including some fine soloing by John Viavattine on tenor and John Nyerges on piano — give this tune a unique identity. "Creature Comfort" is a beautiful mid-tempo ballad by Wallarab with edgeless yet multi-dimensional dissonances written into its harmonics. It swings beautifully and includes a fine, punchy solo by tenorman Glenn Cashman. Besides the originals, there are some fine readings here as well. There's Wallarab's arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Black and Tan Fantasy" that's a thoroughly modern exercise losing none of Ellington's humor or rhythmic complexity. Likewise, Gerry Mulligan's haunting, wee-hours, "Night Lights," is given expert treatment here by Strayer, and Dean Keller's baritone saxophone playing combines Mulligan's sense of lyric and Ben Webster's sense of time. In Time's Shadow reveals that innovation need not sacrifice accessibility or swing. It is convincing evidence that the big band form is alive, well and full of surprises.

Customer Reviews

Great ensemble!!

Nice band, great ensemble and great writing!!!

In Times Shadow, Rick Holland
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