Friday, November 03, 2006

(repost) Bob Curnow's L.A. Big Band - Music of Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays (1994)

Conductor, Arranger: Bob Curnow
Saxes: Bob Sheppard, Danny House, Rob Lockart, Tom Peterson
Trumpets: Bobby Shew, Wayne Bergeron, Don Rader, Ron Stout
Trombones: Rick Culver, Andy Martin, Chuck Hughes, Dana Hughes
Rhythm: Bill Cunliffe (piano), Paul Viapiano (guitar), Tom Warrington (bass), Steve Houghton (drums), Brian Kilgore (percussion)

1. (It's Just) Talk
2. Always And Forever
3. The First Circle
4. Letter From Home
5. Are We There Yet?
6. If I Could
7. See the World
8. Minuano (Six Eight)
9. Dream of the Return
10. Every Summer Night
11. In Her Family
12. Have You Heard

"Pat Metheny and his keyboard collaborator, Lyle Mays, have drawn on diverse sources for their music, combining folk, jazz, country, Latin, and world elements into a tuneful and often electronic mix. Bob Curnow is a veteran of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, and part of his avowed intention here is to set some of the Metheny and Mays compositions within the Kenton style. In keeping with that model, Curnow has assembled a very big band, 20 members strong with five trumpets and five trombones. It's an arresting project, and Curnow has successfully reconceived the Metheny work, substituting layered acoustic winds where electric guitars and keyboards were, enriching the textures and supplying orchestral breadth to what was once more intimate music. Metheny's prettier tunes, such as the ballad "If I Could," take on a Henry Mancini-like luster in this new setting. The sectional play is polished and energetic, and there are plenty of good soloists, including tenor saxophonist Rob Lockart, trombonist Chuck Hughes, and guitarist Paul Viapiano, who frequently provides a sonic bridge between the worlds of Metheny and Curnow. The sound is audiophile quality and the music provides a new look at both Metheny's music and the big-band tradition."

"There's a reason that Bob Curnow's Metheny/Mays arrangements have become the meat and potatoes of college jazz ensembles in the past few years, and this album is it. Curnow starts with intelligent and musical arrangements, and gives them to some of L.A.'s best for interpretation; they certainly don't disappoint. The recording quality is second to none, replicating and improving on the clean, smooth sound that has generally been a hallmark of Metheny's own albums. Due to the excellent recording work, Curnow's L.A. Big Band is under a microscope, but Curnow has picked his musicians well and the blemishes are few and far between. Special mention in the playing department is definitely due to Bobby Shue, who plays the flugelhorn solo on "Always and Forever" with aching sensitivity and then goes on to rip his way vigorously from the bottom to the top range of his trumpet on the difficult changes of "Minuano 6/8". The evocative but gutsy trombone work on "Dream of the Return" is also a highlight of the album, and the rhythm section occasionally could fool you into thinking that Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays were actually sitting back there."

1 comment:

six-by-six said...