Michael Waldrop Big Band

Time Within Itself

origin 82690


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MUSIC REVIEW BY Bob Reny, International Association of Jazz Record Collectors


Dr. Michael Waldrop works by day as a is a Professor of Percussion at Eastern Washington University, but after hours and on weekends he leads this exciting big band, propelling it with contributions on drums and vibraphone. Apart from his career in academe, Waldrop has logged over 23 years playing drums in both jazz and classical settings, experience that surfaces throughout this recording. This is primarily a studio band but its members all are well-honed musicians who obviously love to play big band jazz. "We had a lot of talent in the studio, and everybody was very focused," Waldrop said. "It was amazing how quickly it all came together. Everybody that came to the session knew there was the possibility of it being a national release."

Waldrop is featured at one point or another in all the titles. A talented composer, as well, he wrote or co-wrote six of the eight tunes on the project, and beautifully plays the vibraphone on three of the tracks. This is a big band but not a "swinging" big band and its music is more suited to a concert vice a dance hall. "El Vino," the first track on the CD, is an organ spiced medium tempo tune that gives lots of space to Panella (ts) (a Woody Herman veteran), Spencer (tp), Paul Baker (bar) and Tony Baker (tb) - they all solo over bop like riffs by the band. "Tunnell Vision," of course, features guitarist Jim Tunnell who plays and provides wordless vocals over rapid fire percussion, while the band hangs back a bit to showcase his talent. Panella takes a stunning solo on soprano near the end.

Waldrop lays down a warm waltz tempo for "Time Within Itself," the title cut, and pianist Snyder surfaces again and again to provide a delicious glace to the melody. Will Campbell adds a light tantalizing solo to the mix. Synder is back again on "Munich Musings;" his piano, abetted by bass and percussion, establishes a samba-like beat that leads to well-crafted solos by Waits (tb) and Steinel (tp). "Inner Truth" is one of the best tracks in the album and features solos by leader Waldrop on vibraphone, lightly playing this lovely slower piece that also features sensitive turns by Larry Panella on flute and Mike Steinel on flugelhorn. Written by Waldrop and arranged by Cooper. "Vistas" is a busy guitar piece, dominated by the talented Jim Tunnell and has some more wordless vocal by Dudley, all driven by a punchy staccato pulsing by the band. Tunnel and guitar are back on the up-tempo "Her Moon Rises East" and so is Dudley, adding wordless voicings to a sometimes frenzied cadence. Tim Ishii contributes an impressive alto solo. "Twisted Barb "finds Waldrop firmly in the driver's seat as his drumming supports tight interplay between reeds and brass in this gutty performance. In addition to spectacular drum brakes by Waldrop, Spence (tp) and Campbell (as) solo with verve and style.

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