Trombonist Doug Beavers has released an outstanding album that features spirited arrangements and soloing upon original compositions as well as music from other jazz composers. In Phil Woods parlance, this is a "little big band" as the instrumentation achieves a rich tonal pallet, sounding both tight and loose at the same time. Beavers has played in the Mingus Big Band and toured with Eddie Palmieri; and has found inspiration in the works of Mahler, Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov in pursuing his love of writing for symphonies and large ensembles. This is his second leadership effort and a gem ? my pick for top album of the year.
The opener and title track sets the standard for the album with a brisk rhythm upon which the horn section is superimposed in a more relaxed yet sailing melody into which pianist Henry Hey adds an exhilarating solo, followed by Beavers' mellifluous trombone. Herbie Hancock's too infrequently played "Tell Me A Bedtime Story" is amped -up with a Latin beat about the exquisite voicings of flute, flugelhorn, tenor and 'bones. Conversely, the rhythmic burner is turned down a notch for Claire Fischer's "Pensativa" featuring Sipiagin's flugelhorn work. Tony Williams' "Hand Jive" has sharp ensemble playing with Koslov's solid bass work propelling the musical action. Beavers originals comprise approximately half of the album and include the Kenton-esque "Scurry" and more reflective "Brink".
Throughout this fine release there is a rewarding sense deriving from the exquisite arranging that is every bit as integral to the recording as solo sections. Beavers' warm trombone sound and well-constructed solos provide the centerpiece for an album that is a veritable feast of listening satisfaction.