BILL WARFIELD BIG BAND featuring Randy Brecker/Trumpet Story: A boomer that grew up on all the same stuff as the rest of us but knows how to play a mean trumpet decides to pay musical tribute to all the trumpet players that inspired him. Once again we find that arts council music is no longer sounding like arts council music. A swinging date loaded with originals that hit the mark, Warfield even brings in Randy Brecker to blow a few notes, and he's one of the cats Warfield is paying tribute to. Edgy big band stuff, it's high water mark sitting down jazz that's an unabashed roller coaster ride for your ears. You can feel all the care that went into all facets of the execution from concept to finish and listening to this kind of detail is a real treat. Check it out.
Volume 38/Number 265
830 W. Route 22 #144
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CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher Copyright 2014 Midwest Record
Straight No Chaser
The "Trumpet Story" Story
With his participation in the Bill Warfield Big Band’s Trumpet Story, the legendary trumpeter Randy Brecker continues a series of fine guest recordings with large ensembles. Since his Grammy-winning Randy in Brasil CD in 2008, he has continually made recordings with ensembles as varied as the Danish Radio Big Band and The Danish National Chamber Orchestra (The Jazz Ballad Book); the Kalisz Philharmonic Orchestra (Night in Calisia, also a Grammy winner); and Chuck Owen’s Big Band Jazz Surge (The Comet’s Tail – Performing the Compositions of Michael Brecker). Brecker’s playing has been a major influence on the work of fellow trumpeter/composer Bill Warfield. Brecker first collaborated with Warfield on a “Sketches of Spain” concert at Lehigh University, where Warfield is an Associate Professor of Music and directs the jazz studies program. Since then, whenever Warfield considered working on a large-scale tribute to his favorite trumpet players, he always heard Brecker in his head. The project, a four-part suite, morphed into Trumpet Story, a Big Band recording of four Warfield pieces, a Brecker tune (“Sponge”), and arrangements of songs that influenced Warfield over the years, including “Speak Like a Child” and “Pharoah’s Dance”. Brecker shines throughout, especially on Warfield’s funky “When Janie Takes the Stand.” As always, Brecker can play with the bombast needed for a Big Band soloist, yet with the undeniable lyricism that has made his versions of Brazilian tunes so plaintive and seductive. For me, the highlights come on the soloing on “Sponge”, as Brecker lays it down, and Mark Phaneuf’s tenor sax and Sam Burtis’ trombone answer the challenge.
Posted by: Jack Goodstein in Album Reviews, Jazz, Music, Music Genres, Reviews music BC (blog critics)
Summary: Randy Brecker and Bill Warfield make a combination that’s hard to beat.
Music Review: The Bill Warfield Big Band Featuring Randy Brecker – ‘Trumpet Story’
As Neil Tesser’s liner notes explain, the original idea behind Trumpet Story – the new album from The Bill Warfield Big Band – was to celebrate the trumpet by “writing a suite of big-band compositions for trumpet soloist” focusing on the contributions of icons of the instrument. Warfield, a fine trumpeter in his own right, decided that rather than taking the lead himself he would write for a different trumpeter, one he had worked with before and whose talents were legend: Randy Brecker.
While originally a four-movement suite, the current album grew into something a bit different, celebrating not only the trumpet but a whole range of Warfield’s musical influences. Three of the suite’s original sections are retained, and a selection of compositions by some of these other influences arranged by Warfield fills out the disc. While the focus is still on the trumpet, the current arrangements try to set the instrument in a broader musical context.
The album opens with the funky “When Janie Takes the Stand,” an edgy piece that resurfaces again to close the set in an (edited) airplay track. Brecker’s solo work is complemented by solos from Vic Juris on guitar and Tim Sessions on trombone. Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child,” a splendidly lyrical piece that appropriately features pianist Mike Eckroth, follows. The piano, now played by Art Hirahara, introduces Warfield’s beautiful “A Window That Shows Me the Moon.” “Theme for Malcolm” is a Donald Brown composition with some sweet solo work from Brecker and Mike Migliore on the alto sax. Warfield himself does the solo work on Philip Sparke’s “Flowerdale,” a mood ballad with some majestic passages. Brecker’s “Sponge” gives some idea of the trumpeter’s-compositional skills. Two more pieces by Warfield, “Carol,” written for his wife, and the haunting “In the Land of Chad and Barbie,” plus a 16-minute take on Joe Zawinul’s “Pharaoh’s Dance” round out the album. Trumpet Story is big band music at its finest. Randy Brecker and Bill Warfield make a combination that’s hard to beat.
The Bill Warfield Big Band Featuring Randy Brecker Trumpet Story
The Bill Warfield Big Band takes a look at the great Randy Brecker and is a triumph! Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Actually...Trumpet Story goes slightly back to the future paying homage to other inspirations including Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinful, Donald Byrd, and of course Randy Brecker. The Achilles heel of the big band is the automatic assumption of predictability. Trumpet Story moves past the accepted norm with variety ranging from a brilliant arrangement of Hancock's "Speak Like A Child" to the slightly more unexpected conceptual nature of the original performance suite which was to be geared around Brecker's ability to become that elusive harmonic chameleon as style would dictate. Other notables include the incredibly overlooked pianist Art Hiahara on the Warfield original "A Window That Shows Me The Moon." The deceptively subtle nuanced textures from which Brecker seems to favor take what might otherwise be a better-than-average big band release and elevate this collective to that special place long missing from the much-maligned genre. Bill Warfield's compositions and arrangements highlight that at times there is little doubt simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Tracks: When Janie Takes The Stand; Speak Like A Child; A Window That Shows Me The Moon; Theme For Malcolm; Flowerdale; Sponge; In The Land of Chad and Barbie; Carol; Pharoh's Dance; When Janie Takes The Stand (Airplay Cut).
...this ensemble has a big, powerful, contemporary sound...(on)”The Three Marias” Warfield’s arrangement highlights the entire band as it deftly moves in and out of different moods. Excellent dynamics and rhythmic sparks help make this arrangement work as a fresh take on a memorable tune...A Faceless Place creates the impression of life in the digital age as it moves at an often deafening, always breakneck pace...Bill Warfield’s passionate commitment to this contemporary style is balanced by a keen sense of history, an important element of any visionary work.
Steve Jankowski, Jazz Improv Magazine
...Although technically a “big band” project, the music is much more adventurous than usual and Warfield’s ensemble has the spontaneous feel of a combo. Well worth exploring.
Scott Yanow, All Music Guide, Artist Direct L.A.
...For all its novelty, Warfield’s music is consistently absorbing and rhythmically appealing, and the CD features strong soloists ...(including) the leader on trumpet.
David Franklin, Jazz Times Magazine