It's rare these days to find a big band out on the road but there are many back home in the neighborhoods. It helps if the neighborhood is a stone's throw from New York City and home to many world-class jazz musicians. For the past five years, Westchester County has hosted one of the best - the Westchester Jazz Orchestra Orchestra (WJO), a seventeen-piece all-star ensemble directed by Mike Holober. All In
, their first recording, showcases eight adventurous arrangements - some by band members, some by outside writers - but all commissioned. Director Holober contributed two. For the soulful "Naima" Holober uses orchestral color as twin tenors, Jay Rigby and Mike Migliore, pay homage to John Coltrane. George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" benefits from an imaginative treatment and Jay Brandford's sparkling alto. Brandford's edgy and swinging arrangement of Wayne Shorter's "Ping-Pong" and Ed Xiques' boppish chart of Horace Silver's " Room 608 provide plenty of solo room for Migliore, trumpeter Jim Rotondi and Larry Farrell on trombone. Veteran Marvin Stamm on flugelhorn and bassist Harvie S are simply eloquent as they set the mood for Silver's "Peace" which also includes some great soli passages. And let's not forget Jason Rigby's tenor on Joe Henderson's " Caribbean Fire Dance" and pianist Ted Rosenthal's romantic touch on Bill Evans' "Turn Out the Stars."
Incidentally, this reviewer is from the "In the Mood" generation but finds "(No Longer) In the Mood", Ken Berger's light-hearted reconstruction of the Glenn Miller standard, music to the ears. You can only listen to the original repetitive riffs for so long!
Like other regional jazz orchestras, the WJO provides a creative outlet for writer/arrangers and musicians that can't easily be found elsewhere. This in turn has brought their remarkable music to Westchester County residents. All In allows the rest of us to share the experience. We are fortunate indeed.