The instrumentation is conventional, but the band sure isn't. With the opener, Frank Reinshagen's arrangement of Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile", Summit proves they can serve up hard-driving, section-riffing swing just like your father's big band. Then they demonstrate the qualities of a jazz orchestra, painting with a broad musical palette of colors, rhythms, tempos and dynamics. (Perhaps your father's big band if his big band was Gil Evans or Thad Jones/Mel Lewis!)
The title cut, by band trumpeter Sven Klammer, uses time and tempo changes to reflect those skittish feline moods while Bert Joris's "Nuées d'Orage" (storm clouds) had me watching the sky. "Hibernation" is a warm melancholy piece that showcases Martin Ostermeier's mellow trombone while Bobby Shew has it right about Marko Lackner's "Caravan" chart-"one of the most clever and interesting versions I have ever heard."
Two arrangements are Bob Brookmeyer's. A contemporary treatment of "Ding Dong Ding" takes a simple little melody and turns it around every which way. "Nasty Dance" just builds in intensity and contains an emotional tenor solo by Mark Wyand which alone would justify buying this release. (This seventeen-piece orchestra has twelve excellent individual soloists on this CD. Remarkable!)
Summit, based in Regensberg, Germany, has been out there less than three years. In that short time they have appeared at Montreux, toured in the US and have attracted guest soloists such as Al Porcino, Bobby Shew and Dusko Goykovich. It just goes to show what can be done if you have quality musicians, first-rate composer/ arrangers, a leader like Christian Sommerer and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Much more is still to be heard from the Summit Jazz Orchestra.