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Sounds from the Road by Mike Vax Big Band featuring alumni of the Stan Kenton O

One can debate whether the big bands are "dead"--and a good chunk of this CD's liner notes are devoted to that debate--but one must acknowledge that large ensembles still contribute to today's jazz sound. From Maria Schneider to Dave Holland, Charles Tolliver to the Mingus Big Band, they all play an important part in modern jazz. Mike Vax's big band, on the other hand, is dedicated to the preservation of an earlier sound: that of the forties and fifties, specifically the progressive sounds of Stan Kenton and his ilk. But you won't find any of Kenton's experimental work here, either. This is typically solid, in-the-pocket swing, the stuff big bands played on the road for decades. Kudos to Vax and his crew for maintaining that road ethic through tough economic times. You can hear traces of later Stan here and there--in the brash, bright trumpet ensembles for example--but overall this is safe, dependable and usually fun stuff. However, as is often the case with live multiple-source recordings, this disc suffers from uneven sound. While some tracks come off just fine, others have the horns pushed too far back. And the vocals on "Slow Boat to China" face the same dilemma. Still, lovers of classic big band will enjoy this, and the disc closes with a touching tribute to the late Bob Florence, who plays an extended piano solo on "All the Things You Are."

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mike Vax Big Band featuring alumni of the Stan Kenton O
  • CD Title: Sounds from the Road
  • Genre: Big Band / Swing
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Summit
  • Tracks: Alexs Tune; Seascape; La Virgen de la Macarena; Mr. Natural; Pennies from Heaven; I'm Glad There Is You; On a Slow Boat to China; Boney; Baubles
  • Musicians: Mike Vax (leader, tp/flg); Kim Richmond (ss, as fl); Pete Gallio, Alex Murzyn (ts, fl); Keith Kaminski (bs, as, fl); Scott Peterson (bs); Joel Kaye (bs, fl, bass sax); Dennis Noday, Carl Saunders, Don Rader. Dan Fava (tp/flg); Steve Huffsteter (tp/flg, voc); Roy Wiegand, Dale DeVoe, Scott Whitfield, Curtis Fox (tb); Kenny Shroyer (bass tb); Mike Suter (bass tb, tuba); Bob Florence, Bob Kafka (p); Chris Symer (b); Gary Hobbs (d); Dee Huffsteter (perc); Ginger Berglund (voc)
  • Rating: Two Stars
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