As I write this review on August 23, I come to realize this is the one year anniversary of the passing of trumpet virtuoso Maynard Ferguson, how fitting that I can listen to a tribute band to the master and not one that just pays lip service, but actually puts a little more into it than some of the Ferguson bands, more members in this band, more trumpets and some new arrangements that literally smoke from beginning to end - help to make it so.
The CD is not all about the trumpet, but primarily it is, with Mr. McMillion taking trumpet solos on just about every track, ten of the eleven songs that make up the CD feature his trumpet and he seems most comfortable in the hard to reach regions of the upper atmosphere. There are other nice features, the trombone playing of Keith Oshiro on "Take The A Train" is one such highlight moment, the arrangement by Don Sebesky adds some excellent excitement. The saxophone work of Glen Bush makes for a very nice change of pace on songs like Stevie Wonder’s "Another Star," Miles Davis’s, "Four" and the Dizzy Gillespie classic "A Night In Tunisia."
The lead trumpeter Chad Shoopman does a great job on an interesting arrangement of an Elton John pop song, "Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me" he is joined in the soloing department by trombonist Keith Oshiro who can rock and get funky all in one run. The band has a great feel for this song and with a head bopping, foot stomping arrangement by Jay Chattaway it’s a sure fire winner.
The album High Octane by the Dan McMillion Jazz Orchestra is a delightful tribute to "The Boss" Maynard Ferguson. If you like inspired trumpet playing, if you like big bands that can cook, or if you just want to relax and listen to some great music, this is a nice recording by a group of very good musicians playing some great music.