Thursday, April 5, 2007

Full Spectrum Jazz Big Band: Pursuits

Sea Breeze Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 4.5.07
Buy CD: Pursuits

Ten years ago, a group of Silicon Valley professionals — who also happened to be part-time musicians — formed a big band for their after-hours enjoyment. 

The operative word here is big, the group consisting of four trumpets/flugelhorns, five trombones, five woodwinds, a full rhythm section (piano, drums, bass and guitar) and a vocalist. Their intent, to cover a wide range of musical styles and genres, is illustrated in this release. 

Many of tracks are familiar jazz standards: "Au Privave" and "Night in Tunisia," by Dizzy Gillespie; "Willowcrest," by Bob Florence; "Raggy Waltz," by Dave Brubeck; "Almost Like Being in Love," by Lerner and Loewe; "The Way You Look Tonight," by Jerome Kern; and a group of Latin tunes. 

As you might expect, Valley professionals who deal with detailed electronics approach their after-hours fun with the same precision. The band is beautifully rehearsed, and — considering that these are not professional musicians — the solo work is more than adequate. Unfortunately, the recording, mixing and mastering are quite poor. The band sounds as if the instruments were muffled by cheesecloth, and the entire rhythm section is missing in action. 

The drummer's cymbals are inaudible, and the drums themselves sound more like practice pads than the instruments. Only the electronic bass is audible, and — except for during solos — the piano remains unheard. 

As a result, no emotion is evident, and the group doesn't really swing. And while the vocalist is pleasant enough, there's too much of him and not enough of the band. 

Since this endeavor is intended to provide its participants with "fun" time, we have to assume that they're satisfied with the results. With respect to marketing the band, however, they won't be ready for prime time until they fix the recording and engineering problems.

They really only deserve an E for effort.

No comments: