By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Around the Horn
Tony Kadleck’s dreams as a kid were to become a professional baseball player, but the “growth spurt” that he needed never arrived; he therefore followed his alternate desire and turned to music. Forty years later, he has become a sought-after trumpet sideman, composer and arranger in the New York area.
He attended the New England Conservatory in Boston, studying both classical and jazz; was a member of the Boston Pops Orchestra; and then joined the Buddy Rich Big Band, moving to New York later that year. After graduating from the Manhattan School of Music in 1989, he toured with stars such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Blood, Sweat & Tears. Then, back in New York, he embraced studio recording with the likes of Elton John, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Steely Dan and others.
Most recently, he has been on Broadway, in the orchestra for Disney’s Aladdin.
He never lost his love for big bands, though, and has performed with John Pizzarelli’s Swing Seven, Maria Schneider’s Jazz Orchestra, and John Fedchock’s New York Big Band.
This album fulfills Kadleck’s desire to head his own large ensemble. He has assembled a cadre of top-notch colleagues: More than two dozen artists took part in these recording sessions, although they switched chairs for the 10 tunes on the menu. Kadleck arranged everything: compositions by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Michel LeGrand, Michael Brecker, Leonard Bernstein and others.
As for the quality Kadleck’s arrangements, and the band itself, both are top drawer. The same is true of the liner notes, which identify each song’s players and soloists, so you don’t have to wonder who’s who. The charts all swing, although they aren’t burners; the band sounds like one that audiences once crowded up to watch, to “absorb what was being laid down,” so they didn’t miss a thing.