Stan Bock, and his Oregonian jazz friends, have put together a delightful set for Your Check’s In The Mail. They swing, and solo, and shout in a wonderfully unpretentious way.... it just sounds like they’re having a ball together and we get to listen in.
Bock was a lead trombone player and soloist with a number of different ensembles in the U.S. Air Force Band program from 1975 - 1994 (if you’ve never heard the Airmen of Note big band, count yourself unfortunate). Upon "retiring" from the Air Force to Portland, he quickly developed an active freelance career throughout the Pacific Northwest. His performance credits include gigs with Dizzie Gillespie, Ray Brown, Bobby Shew, Dianne Schurr, and jazz trombone legend Bill Watrous, among others.
Bock previously released Night Grooves on the OA2 label in 2003 under the Stan Bock Ensemble moniker; it’s shame he waited so long to follow with Your Check’s In The Mail. It’s a mix of Bock originals and familiar standards arranged by Bock, well balanced between up-tempo bop, easy swingers, and mellow ballads. The solo work across the CD is good if a bit uneven, but the arranging and ensemble playing is what makes this record an aural joy. "Crystal’s Waltz" is a pretty little ¾ number with the theme introduced by a flugelhorn and euphonium duet, along with a countermelody by the tuba. "A Night In Tunisia" has been recorded so many times, it is hard to imagine a fresh arrangement, but here it is: it opens with a New Orleans jazz march feel, aided considerably by tuba and Hammond B3 organ, but then breaks into a jazz-rock beat on the bridge, and continues alternating throughout. It works!
The title cut, "Your Check’s In The Mail" (an original by saxophonist and band member Renato Caranto) is a highlight. Solo features include pianist George Mitchell, alto saxophonist Warren Rand, Paul Mazzio on trumpet, and Caranto on tenor. In a twist, leader Bock puts his trombone on the stand and throws down a very nice scat solo (his voice sounds just a bit like the legendary Jon Hendricks). Mel Brown raps up the choruses with a brief drum solo before the band takes it out with the theme.Overall, Stan Bock has blended some very nice arrangements with solid, joyful playing to create a jazz record that is a lot of fun to hear.