For his sophomore release, trumpeter Chris Walden has written big band arrangements for several old chestnuts, several fresh originals and a few rare gems. His program sparkles with an accessible ambience. The combination of several vocal selections, a balance of orchestral instruments and big band sounds, and stellar soloing from this lineup of Los Angeles all-stars ensures that No Bounds will compare favorably with Walden's highly successful debut, Home of My Heart.
A contemporary arrangement filled with dramatic overtones surrounds Kim Richmond's feature on "When You Wish Upon a Star." The alto saxophonist, who fills each measure with a cornucopia of ideas, lets the music swing with a deeply felt blues base. Emotions ebb and flow as Walden's band arrangement embraces the soloist with adventurous flights of tension and release.
Tierney Sutton sings "People Will Say We're in Love" and "Smile" with a deep sense for each lyric's contextual meaning. Her convincing interpretations eschew glamour, glitz and technical virtuosity in favor of heartfelt feeling.
Walden's flugelhorn adorns "In the Doghouse," an original with a light, contemporary texture. Swinging casually with a feel for subtle impressionism, he gives us a pleasant adventure that's built for comfort but made with intricate tools. There's a lot going on throughout this swinging affair, and yet it comes to pass with relaxed ease.
Kye Palmer and Tom Peterson give Walden's "Try Harder" a hearty muscular feel that swings comfortably around fiery band fixtures. Walking bass and a staccato drum conversation fill the room with variety.
As Carl Saunders and Alex Iles step out front for Walden's exceptional arrangement of "It's a Small World After All," you can feel the fire that drives the band. Emotions are on overdrive as both soloists provide fluid sojourns on top of the band's innovative interpretation. Walden must have considered this piece a challenge right from the start. How does an arranger take a namby-pamby tune like this, after all, and turn it into a classic big band romp? He's had plenty of experience, he's gathered all the right people together, and together they pull it off sensationally.