Advertisement
Advertisement

JJ 08/90: Bob Belden Ensemble: Treasure Island

Thirty years ago Bruce Crowther noted that university-educated big bands were precise but not always soulful. First published in Jazz Journal 1990

Until recently, the vast number of American university students flooding out of places like East­man and UCLA and North Texas State had only limited places to go if they wanted to play in big bands: Kenton, Herman, Rich, Ferguson. Now they haven’t even those outlets (pace Maynard) but some of them have not lost the desire and turn up in rehearsal bands and, as here, in a band formed and led by an NTSU gra­duate.

Belden left university in 1978, went into the Herman band and formed this group early in 1989. His sidemen include men (I hesitate to use the term ‘veter­ans’) who have worked with Mul­ligan, Akiyoshi, Blakey, Ibrahim, Lewis, the aforementioned Her­man, Ferguson et al, and a string of symphony gigs where their thorough musical grounding and undoubted technical expertise stood them in good stead.

Advertisement

On this set there is no lack of brilliant playing even if, as so often is the case with the university bands and, dare I say it, some of the latterday recordings by Woody and Buddy and the others, there is sometimes an absence of heart and soul.

Some of the music here is familiar (Zawinul’s Directions, Shorter’s Face, Spencer Wil­liams’s Basin Street). Most is new with the long suite of particular interest as an example of the directions being taken by many young musicians today.

In all, this is interesting rather than ex­citing music played with preci­sion and skill rather than relaxed swing. If you like the university bands and late Kenton, Rich and Herman you will probably like this one; others should hear it first. Good sound and excellent playing time.

Discography
Treasure Island Suite: Treasure Island, Deja Vu, The Treasure, Rites Of Passage, The Goodbye, The Voyage Home; Directions; Face On The Barroom Floor; Miss Razeau; Country Corn­flakes; Love From My Heart; Basin Street Blues; Pas De Deux (77.08)
Jim Powell, Tim Hagans (t/flh); John Fedchock (tb); George Moran (btb); Peter Reit (frh); Carl Klienstrauber (tu); Chuck Wilson (cl/f); Mike Migliore (as/f/picc); Ron Kozak (bcl/af); Bob Belden (ts); Tim Ries, Craig Handy (ts/ss); Glenn Wilson (bs); Marc Cohen (p/syn); Jay Anderson (b); Jeff Hirshfield (d); New York City 12, 13 August 1989.
(SunnysideSSC1041D)

Latest audio reviews

Advertisement

More from this author

Advertisement

Jazz Journal articles by month

Advertisement

The OGJB Quartet: Bamako

The OGJB Quartet has been with us since 2015 featuring four musicians associated with and dedicated to improvisation at the sharp end. In the...
Advertisement

Obituary: Lee Konitz

Lee Konitz was one of the very few alto players of his generation not to be overwhelmed by the genius of Charlie Parker. Totally...
Advertisement

Clifford Brown, trumpet titan /1

When Dizzy Gillespie heard that Clifford Brown had been killed in a 1956 car accident his shocked reaction became an emotional epitaph: “Jazz was...
Advertisement

Jazz Images by William Claxton

Photographer William Claxton (1927 to 2008) was born in Pasadena, California. When he was only 12 years old he regularly took the bus to...
Advertisement

Billy Bang: Lucky Man

This film follows violinist Billy Bang as he returns to Vietnam in 2008, where he served as a young soldier 40 years earlier, and...
Advertisement

JJ 04/81: Michael Naura & Wolfgang Schlüter – Country Children

Heads may roll at ECM when someone realises what's on this one. For perhaps the first and last time in its history, in Take...