Chris Walden made his bandleading debut last year with the fine, Grammy-nominated disc Home of My Heart. Its follow up is No Bounds, which seems to suffer a bit from the sophomore jinx. Though some pieces work very well and there is plenty of fine playing by the members of the Walden Big Band, the date is nonetheless compromised by the amount of corn in the playlist.
Walden stumbles out of the gate badly with an ill-advised arrangement of David Foster's theme for the Winter Olympics. I think it's arguable how well the piece works as a fanfare in the first place, but either way I don't think it's a great platform for jazz. At least tenor saxophonist Brandon Fields manages a nice solo, if nothing else. "When You Wish Upon A Star" is the first of three songs associated with Walt Disney in the set, none of which are particularly inspiring. "Someday My Price Will Come" is nice enough on its own, but doesn't stand up to the inevitable comparison with Miles Davis. The playful "It's A Small World After All" probably fares the best of the troika.
There are some very nice tracks here and there, though. The elegant "Clax's Theme" features the trumpet of Till Broner, and the ballad "Otterkam" has a great mood and a unique electric cello solo courtesy of Martin Tillman. Tierney Sutton 's vocals grace two standards, "People Will Say We're In Love" and "Smile," and the group really swings on Walden's original "Try Harder." In the end, the good outweighs the bad on No Bounds, but it still has to be reckoned something of a disappointment after such a strong effort last time from Walden.