Pianist/ composer/ arranger Gordon Lee has accomplished something many jazz fans would love to hear accomplished more often - a really good big band album. Compiling a big band, even if only for recording purposes, is a monumental task these days, and giving them charts that challenge and explore is even more of a coup. Lee has assembled a crack group of musicians to play his original charts, and the result is spectacular at times. Trumpets played by Rich Cooper , Randy Mueller and others blast away on thickly composed charts like "Viciuos Cycle" and the dissonantly pretty title track. Solos by saxophonists Gary Harris("Alternative Blues")
Tom Bergeron ("Tobacco Monkey") add snap and intensity, while the horn sections shout with precision and spark. Lee's arrangements are thickly orchestrated, with minor seconds, suspended chords, descending lines and juxtapositions abounding throughout.
Occaisionally the chords overpower a sense of melody, making the tunes seem like they are searching for a central point, but somehow they come back together before getting too far astray. There are moments of beauty, as on tenor saxophonist Renato Caranto's feature, "Sentimental Fool". And there are plenty of powerful interludes, as on the chattering, "Tobacco Monkey." It's a fine album
played by a band that should be heard in public to be appreciated.