Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Darrell Katz and the JCA Orchestra, Why Do You Ride?

Composer-bandleader Darrell Katz and his JCA (Jazz Composers Alliance) Orchestra has enjoyed a longevity as an advanced big band that would seem to defy the odds. Groups like this don't ordinarily survive long with the financial demands such an outfit entails. And yet here they are with a new album, Why Do You Ride? (Leo 711).

The album contains an ambitious work that serves as the title for the album. It is a ten-part composition that addresses bicycling, Zen thought, and the sayings or apocryphal sayings of Albert Einstein on bicycling and any number of related and less-related topics. The album concludes with the 10-minute "SamiBadGal" and an arrangement of "Monk's Mood" for the JCA Sax Quartet.

Vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton does a fine job in her role on "Why Do You Ride?". Her vocal part serves as the central narrative thread and the elaborate part she interprets with genuine artistry. The 18-piece orchestra/big band sounds well-rehearsed and spirited. There are eclectically diverse sections, straightforward swinging with sometimes advanced harmonic voicings, other times more traditional big band sounds, an avant openness at times, funk-rock momentum, old-timey references, new music composed elements, and the spice of effective soloists.

It all hangs together by virtue of the topical focus.

This is a major big-band compositional statement. It is also a quite enjoyable listen.

Thank you Maestro Katz! Give this one a spin, by all means.

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