Special Guest - Catherine Hazel Smith - spoken word.
|The New World Jazz Composers Octet|
The band is officially defined as a medium-sized jazz ensemble on paper; on the bandstand, they are a different animal; they morph into a power house of burning swing, with a mixed-martial-arts compositional execution and abandon, that take the sweet science of jazz to a level of gritty funk that bands twice their size never achieve.
The band breaks out with a straight swinger (Poco Picasso), that features a splendid, breezy trumpet solo from Walter Platt; some extremely electrifying drum work from Mark Walker, and culminates with a Felipe Salles tenor solo that can only be described as brutishly searing. The front line of the ensemble is made up of very accomplished multi-instrumentalists who endow it with striking versatility on (Wishful Thinking), a provocative, pleading lament heard in the Tim Ray's piano, from out of the octet's horns and then in Felipe Salles' flute (Children's Waltz). It decidedly puts power and swing in abeyance in deference to grace, a quality not often displayed by such aggregations, but which shows the confidence, sensitivity and understanding of leader Daniel Ian Smith in giving voice to the 'breaking news' of youth through his young daughter, Catherine Hazel Smith with the elegant recitation of Paul Haines' poem (Song Sung Long).
However, it is riotous swing and towering power that exemplify the bona fides of The New World Jazz Composers Octet (Breaking News), with its hard-bop feel fueled by torrid solos from trumpeter Walter Platt and Daniel Smith's scorching baritone saxophone; but for pure no-holds-barred, phat, bone-jarring rhythm-a-thing (Warp 7, Now) breaks the sound barrier: And as Charles Mingus used to say, "I'm telling you right now," that's real "breaking news!" The horns splatter sound around like Picasso with bucket of cubist, impressionist paint, drummer Mark Walker and bassist Keala Kaumeheiwa drive the rhythm section like impatient, harried passengers muscling their way onto a packed train at rush hour. Finally, Ernesto Diaz gets into the act and whips up serious Afro-Cuban percussion agony on the congas, igniting the fiercest rhythmic firestorm on the date.
The CD ends with a trilogy of compositions by composer Ted Pease, Distinguished Professor of Jazz Composition at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, and represents the third recording collaboration between Pease and bandleader Smith. Pease dedicates the work to three of his favorite composers: First showcasing the long powerful chord technique of the under appreciated trumpeter Thad Jones (Thad's Pad), a harmonically sophisticated trumpeter/cornetist who performed superbly in the William "Count" Basie orchestra, and with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis juggernaut.
The centerpiece of the trilogy features the urbane, refined tastes of Billy "Sweet Pea" Strayhorn (Strays). Smith does an admirable job on alto saxophone of reprising the soaring, lyrical dulcitude in the unmatched sound of Johnny "Rabbit" Hodges. The band collectively rises to the occasion to paint smooth, reassuring colors, and that dependable, lush-life mood, that was the genius of Strayhorn.
The third tine on the fork of the triptych captures a condensed, ruggedly-swinging chart (Willis) reminiscent of those once written by composer/arranger/conductor/saxophonist/songwriter Willis Leonard Holman for the Charley Barnet and Stan Kenton orchestras.
The New World Jazz Composers Octet, with the release of "Breaking News," proves that the real breaking news musically is that they are diverse, ultra talented, dedicated to their calling and leaders in their genre. The next 'breaking news' will occur when they release their fourth CD.
Recorded at the Fraser Performance Studio, WGBH Boston, MA
Mastered by Jonathan Wyner at M-Works Studios, Cambridge, MA