Portraits and Places
is a big band record highlighting the writing and playing talents of Scott Reeves, and additionally Steve Wilson on woodwinds. While not specifically a "trombone album," Portraits and Places
showcases some great playing from trombonists Matt McDonald and Max Seigel, and of course Scott Reeves himself.
The album starts out with "The Soulful Mr. Williams." The brooding textures from the trombone section lead immediately into an excellent alto flugelhorn solo (which sounds a lot like a valve trombone) by Scott Reeves. "3 'n 2" is an up-tempo vehicle for Tim Armacost's intense tenor solo and Bill Mobley with a lyrical trumpet solo. Scott Reeves' ensemble writing seems to recall some of the great Dizzy Gillespie big-band recordings. Laden with quotes, this bebop feature will please serious jazz fans. "Osaka June" is a dyed-in-the-wool jazz waltz, but with some more modern sensibilities. The woodwinds/vocal unison lines throughout remind the listener of Maria Schneider's and Guillermo Klein's modern treatment of voice in jazz. Sara Serpa's understanding of how to blend her voice with the other instruments in the band makes the blend seamless. Japanese dialogue is featured near the beginning of the track, adding the modern aesthetic.
Reeves's wry treatment of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Aquas de Marco" feels fresh and light, particularly compared to the thicker textures of some of the other selections on the album. Once again Sara Serpa lends her voice to the melody, recalling Astrud Gilberto's sounds while bringing a unique modernity to the tune. "L & T Suite," dedicated to Reeves' wife, is a collection of three movements. It is riddled through with references to many classical composers such as Copeland, Stravinsky, and Bartok. Of special note is "A Trombonists's Tale" which features Matt McDonald's lyrical trombone playing.
Finally, it's impossible to go without mentioning "Last Call," a sultry blues which features several soloists, though special mention goes to the excellent Max Seigel on bass trombone. He solos with a unique voice and easy facility all over the horn.
Portraits and Places
isn't really a "trombone album," but rather a modern big-band album featuring a great trombone section. If you love fantastic section playing and modern writing, consider picking up this album.