Identities is the latest recording from the Latvian Radio Big Band – self-described as “one of the most legendary jazz music ensembles in the Baltics”.
The seven tightly woven compositions are written, arranged and conducted by tenor saxophonist Kārlis Vanags, and were recorded directly onto analogue tape during a live performance back in January 2020. The recording quality can’t really be faulted, and not one voice is lost among the ensemble.
Two particularly funky pieces – Self Esteem, and Belief – form the head and tail of the album and feature some fantastic performances from guest musicians Atis Andersons on the Hammond organ, and Jievaras Jasinskis on trombone.
On Inner Voice, the band draw back and allow pianist Viktors Ritovs to take a short unaccompanied solo: Mellow and introspective, it stands out amongst the rest of the bolder big-band arrangements as a particularly beautiful composition.
Ultimately, Identities delivers on all the key aspects of a contemporary big band recording: that rich unified sound, with some swinging solos throughout. And in a recording this crisp, little else is needed.
Hear/buy Kārlis Vanags / Latvian Radio Big Band: Identities at jersikarecords.bandcamp.com/album/identities
Self Esteem; New Life; Hopes and Dreams; Priorities; Inner Voice; Challenges; Belief (41.44)
Vanags (arr, ts); Dāvis Jurka (as, f, cl); Jānis Puķītis (as, ss, cl); Gints Pabērzs (ts, ss); Māris Jēkabsons (ts); Kristaps Lubovs (bar, bcl); Andris Augstkalns, Gatis Gorkuša, Oskars Ozoliņš, Reinis Puriņš, Dominykas Vyšniauskas (t); Laura Rozenberga, Kārlis Alfrēds Feldbergs, Uldis Ziediņš, Jievaras Jasinskis (tb); Nauris Strežs (btb, tu); Viktors Ritovs (p, kyb); Rihards Goba (g); Edvīns Ozols (b, elb); Artis Orubs (d); Atis Andersons (org). Spikeri Concert Hall, Riga, 28-30 January 2020.
Jersika Records JRA007