By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 10.07.10
Buy CD: Live at the Red Sea Jazz Festival
Trombonist John Fedchock first lit my fire in 1980, while he was playing with Woody Herman's Thundering Herd. Fedchock toured with that band for seven years, and served as musical coordinator/chief arranger on Herman's final Grammy Award-nominated albums: 50th Anniversary Tour and Woody's Gold Star.
Fedchock has been a key member — and arranger — for many of the top big bands that have kept that genre alive: Gerry Mulligan's Concert Band, Louie Bellson's Big Band, The Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and his own New York Big Band. Drawing from members of the latter group, Fedchock created the New York Sextet, which has performed throughout the United States and at international jazz festivals.
This release features that sextet: “live” and outdoors at the 2006 Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel. The locale presented a significant challenge; the first sound-check was done in 111-degree heat. The stage floor was so hot that it presented a significant challenge to keeping instruments in tune; when the musicians weren't “blowing,” the air temperature inside the horns would soar and change the pitch!
Somehow, though, they made it work.
This was a true “session”; the performances are long enough to allow the artists to stretch during their solos. Everything swings, particularly the cover of Duke Ellington's “Caravan.”
Fedchock is, to quote legendary jazz critic Leonard Feather, “a superior jazz trombonist.” And his sextet cohorts aren't far behind.