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On a Misty Night

On a Misty Night

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CD 
Price: €24.06

Product Notes

It takes more than the mere abilities to swing and entertain for a big band to rise to a level that is something special. Such is the case with the Naples Jazz Orchestra. Just ask drummer Bob Stone, who has been involved in big band jazz for more than 40 years in the Midwest and southern Florida. He knows the best when he hears it: "It can pull you up out of your seat or make your hair stand on end," he says. "I've played with some of the best in the world, and these guys are just as good." Over it's first four seasons, The Naples Jazz Orchestra has developed a blessedly fine roster. Many of the players drive more than 100 miles each way - in some cases nearly double that - to perform and rehearse. They drive south from the Tampa Bay area and greater Sarasota; they drive west from Florida's Gold Coast between Miami and Fort Lauderdale; and they come from right down the street. All for the opportunity to make wonderful music together. "All of the egos are checked at the door," NJO Musical Director Stone says. "The way they play is off the scale. That can bring you to tears. I have never played in a band before where everyone is happy to be there - and happy to do what we're doing." What they're doing each season (eleven concerts or more on Monday nights stretching from January through April in what Floridians call "snowbird season") draws crowds of anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 music lovers to beautiful Cambier Park in downtown Naples. Attendees bring their lawn chairs, blankets, picnic baskets and suggested $10 donations to bask in the thrill of big band jazz, often featuring special guests that have included Carmen Bradford, Byron Stripling and Doc Severinsen. They also come with the knowledge - or soon learn - that the band is paying it forward in it's approach to build a generation of future musicians and big band jazz fans. The nonprofit NJO's revenue supports it's Naples Youth Jazz Orchestra, which consists of area high school students who receive full scholarships to study with and/or perform with NJO members and special guests for six months. Then there's an occasional road gig, like this one on February 18, 2013 seventy miles to the north in Port Charlotte. It resulted in this, the Naples Jazz Orchestra's first recording. Many among the audience of nearly 500 knew they were hearing something extraordinary; and the band was fueled by the energy a player only gets from a live performance. Here is a brief look at some of the special things going on within each of the CD's dozen tunes: 1. "Tutti for Cootie" - Trumpeter Mark Pettey, a veteran of The Allman Brothers and Marshall Tucker Band horn sections, channels Cootie Williams' growling plunger-mute and open-horn artistry as he rides hard over the full orchestra's strong cushion on this Duke Ellington Orchestra staple. 2. "It Might As Well Be Spring" - Saxophonists Rodney Rojas and Tom Ellison show their skills in singing the melody through their horns - as the best soloists do - on this beautiful ballad, the first of two on this recording that was arranged by Lennie Niehaus. 3. "How Long Has This Been Going On?" - Mark Pettey's solo is filled with soul and fire on this Gershwin classic, which also showcases the big band's fine ensemble work. The late Don Schamber did the arrangement, as well as two others later in the program. "To me, Don was one of the unsung heroes of big band arranging," Stone says. Countless big band leaders across the United States concur. 4. "In A Mellow Tone" - The great Oliver Nelson (best known for The Blues and the Abstract Truth) arranged this version of the Ellington classic. This night, it provided a spotlight for the spirited and lyrical playing of trumpeter Kevin Celebi, the band's newest and youngest member, who was 25 at the time of this concert. 5. "I Hadn't Anyone Till You" - Here is a beautiful moment showcasing Rodney Rojas' way with a ballad. He digs deep into the tune's essence, revealing new emotional facets within this 1938 popular song that Tony Martin sang with the Ray Noble Band. 6. "Whisper Not" - The ensemble's performance is noteworthy on this take on saxophonist Benny Golson's classic ballad. It gives textured support behind contrasting solos that feature Kevin Celebi's bright trumpet work and Woody Herman Orchestra alumnus Mike Brignola's brawny baritone. 7. "Soon" - This lesser known Gershwin composition was written for the second version of the Broadway musical Strike Up The Band (1930). Don Schamber's arrangement transformed "Soon" into something far more powerful than traditional vocal versions because of the way that he intensified the feel of it's clever melody. The result: one of the great "blowing" tunes in big band jazz. Soloists Mark Petty, George Mancini, Tom Ellison and Bob Stone rise to the occasion. 8. "I'll Close My Eyes" - Pianist Kenny Drew Jr.'s classical chops and his great modernist inventions as a jazz soloist flourish on his exploration of this gem. The western Florida jazz scene is richer for the fact that this keyboard master chose St. Petersburg as his home base. 9. "But Not For Me" - Here's an opportunity to dig the soloist's art at it's most challenging: when the time in the spotlight is brief. David Pate on tenor sax and Greg Nielsen on trombone make their musical points, then let the band get back to driving home this intense gem. 10. "Blood Count" - Rodney Rojas' alto solo work throughout captures every bit of nuance and poignancy on Billy Strayhorn's final composition for the Ellington band. The tune was the opening track in Duke's memorial album dedicated to Strayhorn, ...And His Mother Called Him Bill. Be sure to note Drew's subtle comping here. This arrangement has no written piano part; everything he played was original. 11. "On A Misty Night" - This was one of pianist Tadd Dameron's finest compositions, which he based on the popular standard "September in the Rain." Dameron recorded it with small groups and full orchestra, but it's sprightly beauty is best revealed in the larger setting. The NJO does it very well, featuring Kenny Drew Jr., Mark Pettey, Rodney Rojas and Bob Stone on the night's longest and most intricate exploration. It bubbles with both raw power and subtle delicacy. Note how Rojas inserts a brief "September in the Rain" melodic quote into his solo without missing a beat. 12. "A Foggy Day" - This collaboration by the brothers Gershwin features two more condensed solos, with Mike Brignola on baritone sax and Mark Pettey adding Harmon mute to his trumpet voicings. It was a crisp choice for a concert closer. This splendid evening drew the biggest crowd of the 2012-13 season in the Charlotte County Jazz Society's Artists Series. No doubt there were goose bumps and more than a few misty eyes in the audience as this band extended the robust sound epitomized by big bands led by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Harry James, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich and many, many more. Yes, this unit can hold it's own with any big band anywhere. The players' musical passion and talent, both individually and collectively, are key to it's success. The Naples Jazz Orchestra is special indeed. - Ken Franckling, October 2013 (Veteran freelance jazz journalist and photographer Ken Franckling was United Press International's jazz columnist for 15 years. He now writes for JazzTimes, HotHouse, allaboutjazz.com and his blog, Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.)

Details

Artist: Naples Jazz Orchestra
Title: On a Misty Night
Genre: Jazz
Release Date: 06/01/2014
Label: CD Baby
Media Format: CD
UPC: 888295033251

Credits

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