Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rob Parton and JazzTech: Just One of Those Things

Sea Breeze Jazz
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 5.1.08
Buy CD: Just One of Those Things

Trumpeter Rob Parton is "Mr. Jazz" in Chicago; he plays in groups of every size, from trios to big bands. 

His web site offers the services of not just one, but two big bands, one of which is the JazzTech unit featured on this album. He's a very busy musician; his trio performs more than 250 dates a year at Chicago's Catch 35. 

The big bands are in demand for other occasions, as are larger combos. In his spare time, he's a "first-call" artist for touring shows. 

Oh, and he also teaches and is an associate professor at Chicago's College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University. 

This JazzTech band is one of the smoothest, most precise and "musically correct" units I've ever heard. The arrangements are wonderfully different, echoing the great stuff put out by the Bob Florence and GRP big bands. The execution is faultless: no fluffs or stumbles, either in the ensemble or solo choruses. 

The selection menu provides something for everyone: swinging originals and covers of wonderful old standards that you don't hear often ("Prelude to a Kiss," "You've Changed," "It Might as Well Be Spring," "It Never Entered My Mind"). 

So, you might ask, why not a 5-star rating? 

It's too good. Excellence can exist without passion, and that's the case here. I suspect that the cause relates to how busy these musicians are; they play so often — in the same locales, for the same audiences — that they don't have the same "fire in their bellies" that the great old big bands had ... or that the special, short-lived ensembles like the GRP or Florence units muster for their special concerts or recording sessions, before returning to their regular jobs. 

That said, JazzTech is near-perfection, and you can't help being impressed by it.

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