Monday, November 25, 2013

Manhattan Brass, Manhattan Holiday

Any brass quintet that includes the likes of Lew Soloff and Dave Taylor promises to be a good thing. That is Manhattan Brass (along with R.J. Kelley, Mike Seltzer and Wayne du Maine). Set them loose on Carla Bley and Jack Walrath arrangements of seasonal goodies and you have Manhattan Holiday (self-released).

This no ordinary holiday fare. This is real-deal jazz arrangements of both traditional and less traditional music. Like Manhattan itself during the holidays it conjoins all sorts of things, every block has something different, so every musical block is another something to appreciate. The Bley and Walrath arrangements are great fun but great music too, with unrepressed exuberance and a chance for those marvelous jazz voicings and yes, solos too as called for. Monk's "Stuffy Turkey" (great choice) gets a rousing version along with "The Christmas Song," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," the old and the newer but with explosive irreverence wrapped in packages of surprises, like a mix of grandpa and the kids on gifting morning, a wide gamut of moods and emotions get due attention.

It's that way--the brass group is a very integral part of traditional holiday music, but it's also a part of jazz of course--so the two get together like old friends who may not have seen each other for years but can compare experiences and come together in the best sort of togetherness.

This one is great fun. And just plain great, too!

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