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Album Review

Mike Holober identifies Quake as "the sound leaves make when they rustle in the wind, especially in the fall when they are drying and colorful, particularly if they are aspens." It explains how the tone of this recording is completely understated instead of bombastic and jarring as an earthquake might suggest. Under the leadership of pianist/composer/arranger Holober, the 17-piece Gotham Jazz Orchestra is a New York City based modern big band whose objective is to create swirling color patterns in subdued shades, rather than obtuse, outrageous, or brassy outcries. The muffled tone palate allows the instruments to blend into homogeneous shapes, avoiding jagged edges and overt swing patterns which identify most big jazz units. Size matters, but not to shout or exclaim demonstrative presence. It's a stance few groups have adopted, with Gil Evans and Maria Schneider the likely exceptions. The textures of this music are beautifully rendered, especially the rich, lustrous, restrained yet full bodied, thoughtful, pretty chart of "Note to Self" led by the alto sax of Dave Pietro, nice in the very best sense. "Thrushes" is as evocative as the bird it represents, a waltz of flutes and clarinets sweetly countermanded with the trombones. The title track mixes the seasonal transition of autumn and winter, as tree leaves are sprinkled by snow showers in tiny, delicate, mezzo piano held dynamic phrases, with sunny light refractions provided by the soprano sax of Tim Ries. "Twist & Turn" is perfectly titled, as a slow Fender Rhodes induced funk from Holober in 4/4 switches intermittently to 3/4 in a distinct Brecker Brothers style N.Y.C. neo-bop. The quickest piece is the last one, as the familiar Rolling Stones song "Ruby Tuesday" is mutated into an ethereal 5/4 line that is charged up, and pleasingly difficult to identify from the original. George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" displays other crystalline adaptations of his well known melody via counterpointed horns whispering to the electric guitar of Steve Cardenas, while the slowed and slower "Roc & a Soft Place" is the ultimate horizon song lifting at daybreak, with a stoic bassline from John Hebert adding a pulsing ostinato to the first rhythms of a new day. In many ways this is stunning, commanding but in a different way. It's intimate, soft, and mellow, far from ebullient or boldly roaring, centered by a quiet flame that burns like embers. You'll be taking no chances drinking in this highly enjoyable and recommended modern big-band recording that deserves nothing but high marks. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Genre: Jazz

Jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and big-band leader Mike Holober has proven versatility in a career that has seen him dedicated to both teaching and performing. Trained as a classical pianist and conductor, he began working as a jazz sideman and composer upon moving to New York City in 1986. His most prominent early association was as an accompanist for baritone saxophonist Nick Brignola, working alongside him in the late '90s before Brignola's death in 2002. Since that time, Holober has worked...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Mike Holober & The Gotham Orchestra

Quake, Mike Holober & The Gotham Orchestra
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jan 27, 2009

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