Multi-instrumentalist, composer and educator Scott Reeves assembled his Jazz Orchestra eight years ago, but has just gotten around to recording with them. During that time, the City College of New York professor, who also taught at Juilliard among other prestigious institutions, has honed his big band's sound and the works he's written for them. The thrilling results can be heard on Portraits and Places
(Origin), the Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra's debut recording. It never hurts to call a few ringers, and Reeves has stocked his excellent sections with the likes of saxophonists Steve Wilson and Tim Armacost, trumpeter Nathan Eklund, pianist Jim Ridl and bassist Todd Coolman, as well as pulling in vocalist Sara Serpa to lend her talents to a couple of tracks. Reeves, who also contributes alto flugelhorn to the session, pens exciting contemporary big-band arrangements, utilizing colors that recall Gil Evans and Thad Jones. And like those composers, the Chicago native hardly turns his back on traditional swing as he displays on the muscular "3 'n 2," included here. A bluesy rhythmic motif with a Spanish accent creates the superstructure upon which the big band builds. Solos by tenor saxophonist Armacost and trumpeter Bill Mobley ascend the swaying but firmly anchored scaffold and plant their flags.