This is the second album (the first was Nothing Hard Is Ever Easy, reviewed in Jazz Journal April 2016) by arranger, saxophonist and educator Dan Bonsanti. Every member of the 14 Jazz Orchestra is a graduate of the University of Florida’s prestigious Frost School of Music. Nine of the album’s themes were arranged by Bonsanti. Special guests include Randy Brecker, Danny Gottlieb, and Mark Egan.
Proceedings start with Chick Corea’s Armando’s Rhumba, with Ed Maina’s piccolo solo as a highlight. Firewater features guest tenor Mark Colby and trumpeter Cisco Dimas. Chick Corea’s composition Blue Miles features Jim Gasior’s blues-inflected piano, followed by straightahead orchestral choruses, Ed Maina’s wailing alto and Ed Calle’s authoritative tenor, with crisp punctuation from drummer Jack Ciano. Jobim’s haunting Triste starts with, and maintains, a pulsating bossa nova rhythm, with lilting flute by the versatile Maina.
Perhaps the standout track is a mischievous and witty cover of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s hit, retitled 16 Tones (Give Or Take), with funky guitar licks from Tom Lippincott, muted trumpet by Ray Chicalo and Peter Brewer’s down-home baritone solo. Also well worthy of attention are Wayne Shorter’s original Dance Cadaverous with solos from Gasior and trombonist Dante Luciani, and Seventh Sign with Mark Egan on bass and Danny Gottlieb on drums.
Rice Pudding is an out and out swinger from start to finish, with more blues-flavoured guitar from Lippincott, Randy Brecker’s high-voltage electric trumpet, and guest drummer Marko Marcinko keeping everyone together. The closing track, the evergreen ballad I’ll Be Seeing You, arranged by Bonsanti, showcases Rick Margitza’s evocative tenor and the versatile Maina on flute.
If your preference is for present-day big bands staffed by highly competent musicians playing carefully crafted arrangements, then Don Bonsanti and his numerous disciples should be preaching to the already converted.
Armando’s Rhumba; Firewater; Blue Miles; Triste; Dance Cadaverous; Pandamandium; 16 Tons (Give Or Take); Seventh Sign; Rice Pudding; Ruth; I’ll Be Seeing You (59.49)
Bonsanti (arr), orchestra includes Randy Brecker, Rick Margitza (t); Mark Colby (ts); Ed Calle (ts, ss, and f); Mark Egan (b); Danny Gottlieb, Lee Levin (d). No recording details.
Dabon Music, LLC