The Leading BIG BAND Magazine - BIG BANDS INTERNATIONAL
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What can one say about this superb band that hasn't already been said. I believe this is their sixth CD for Sea Breeze and nothing changes, it's all there -- biting brass, a bouncing sax section, all beautifully rehearsed plus some excellent arrangements by Tom Garling, all topped by Rob's thrilling trumpet and flugelhorn.
Some of the old favorites are still on board with superb solos -- Mark Colby on tenor, the aforesaid Garling on trombone and Bob Frankich on alto. This has to be one of the best bands around. "Lickety Split" composed and arranged by Garling gets things off to a splendid start with a stomping tenor solo from Mark. Yet another original from Tom is "Heads Up" with the composer on trombone and Joan Doughty on piano. Another delight is Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" with some great lyrical trumpet playing from Terry Connell.
"You've Changed," arranged by Frank Mantooth, is a feature for the leader's gorgeous trumpet and flugel, and please give a listen to the backing by the band. The superb alto of Bob Frankich is only given one outing on this CD (we need more) along with Tom on trombone on Don Schamber's excellent arrangement of "It Might as Well Be Spring." It all ends up with a right rave up on another Tom Garling original, "Knee Deep in Rio," recorded by Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau when Tom was a member of the trombone section. Listen out for the way Rob tops the trumpet section near the end. How I wish this band could give a few concerts over here.
Peter Green, Big Bands International August 2008
Just One of Those Things is, after only one captivating listen, anything but just another "one of those big bands. The seventh album by trumpeter Rob Parton's Chicago-based orchestra and, perhaps, the best one yet, this is truly a gem of an album that sparkles with every track. Quite a statement to swallow if one is familiar with the discography of the JAZZTECH Big Band and, in particular, with their last blue ribbon release, Two Different Days (Seabreeze, 2004), which, frankly, it's hard to believe could be eclipsed.
Yet Parton himself believes that this is the band's best work, writing in the liner notes that "The music on this CD represents what I believe to be some of the finest playing we have recorded to date. Called "One of the best big bands in the country by The Chicago Tribune, the JAZZTECH Big Band has been providing cutting-edge big band jazz for two decades, performing a monthly gig at FitzGerald's nightclub in Berwyn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
The album features some of the best Chicago-based veteran musicians, including jazz luminaries like trombonist Tom Garling, saxophonist Mark Colby, pianist Don Stille and original band member, drummer Bob Rummage. Garling contributes three original compositions including "Knee Deep In Rio, taken from the Maynard Ferguson songbook, with Parton featured on lead high trumpet.
The other two Garling tunes where written as part of The Commission Project (TCP), a non-profit group which fosters music education in public schools throughout the country. The tunes include the explosive opener, "Lickety Split, highlighting a scorching sax solo from Colby that sets the tone for the session. Garling plays lead on the other lively score, "Heads Up. Parton takes over on Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes, playing an emotional flugelhorn and finishing off on trumpet. The leader shines brightly once again on the Frank Mantooth arrangement of "You've Changed, delivering two beautiful ballads showing a quieter side of the band's performance.
The band provides a powerful statement on the brassy "Black Nile, the other Shorter composition, where Colby and drummer Rummage one again make their presence known. Parton steps aside and gives way to fellow trumpeter Terry Connell on the Tom Matta arrangement of Clifford Brown's signature chart, "Joy Spring.
While Stille provides his usual dynamic performance on the five tracks on which he appears, it is fellow pianist JoAnn Daugherty who takes over for the balance of the set and makes an impression on "I'll Close My Eyes, displaying her talents with a dicey piano solo on the last warm ballad of the album.
It's important to re-emphasize that Just One of Those Things is not just another big band recording that one will put on the shelf after one or two listens. The shear energy, excitement and finessed power playing, produced by Rob Parton's world-class JAZZTECH Big Band, guarantees hours of pleasurable listening time to those who love and appreciate the magic of the big band sound.
There aren't many big bands that are as consistently impressive in a studio as they are in person. Here's one that is—trumpeter Rob Parton's strapping, Chicago-based JazzTech Big Band. Parton's secret? It's not hard to comprehend. Enlist the best players one can find, give them bright and elaborate charts to sink their chops into, then stand aside and let 'em roar.
Except Parton does much more than stand aside. He also quarterbacks the ensemble's superlative trumpet section and produces splendid solos on both trumpet and flugelhorn ("You've Changed, Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes ). It never hurts the cause to have sharp-shooting soloists, and Parton has rounded up and deputized a number of the Chicago area's fastest and most sure-handed gunslingers. Tenor saxophonist Mark Colby scores well-aimed bull's-eyes on Tom Garling's "Lickety Split and Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things," as do trombonist Tim Coffman on Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss, trumpeter Terry Connell on Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring, pianist JoAnn Daugherty on "I'll Close My Eyes, and bass trombonist Tom Matta on his seductive arrangement of Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind. Colby, trumpeter Kirk Garrison, bassist Tim Fox and drummer Tom Hipskind empty their side arms on the breezy finale, "Knee Deep in Rio.
Trombonist Tom Garling composed and arranged "Lickety Split, "Heads Up and "Rio, and solos smartly with Daugherty on "Heads Up, Colby on "Black Nile and alto Bob Frankich on Don Schamber's sunny arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "It Might as Well Be Spring. Schamber also scored "I'll Close My Eyes, complementing admirable charts by Paul McKee ("Kiss, "Infant Eyes, "Black Nile ), Matta ("Joy Spring ), Chris Madsen ("One of Those Things ) and the late Frank Mantooth ("You've Changed ).
Brass and reeds combine formidable power with due respect for color and dynamics, while the rhythm section, anchored on ten tracks by drummer Bob Rummage, on two by Hipskind, performs with the impeccable timing and reliability of a Swiss watch. Daugherty, the band's newest member, makes an auspicious debut as she shares keyboard duties with veteran Don Stille, while Fox and percussionist Evan Ryan provide indispensable balance. On Just One of Those Things, Parton's intrepid JazzTech Big Band readily enhances its proven stature as a world-class jazz ensemble. An early pacesetter in the Record of the Year sweepstakes.