Any way you slice it, it's not easy for a big band to earn a Grammy Award nomination. Composer/arranger Chris Walden's debut album, Home of My Heart, received not one but two, for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Instrumental Arrangement. One year later, Walden returns with another strong contender, No Bounds, showcasing eleven of his exemplary charts performed by an all-star ensemble of Los Angeles-area studio/big band musicians.
Walden, who is originally from Germany, is buoyed on this new recording by the guest artistry of fellow countrymen Till Br?nner, Frank Chastenier and Martin Tillman. Br?nner's burnished trumpet is featured on his own enchanting ballad, "Clax's Theme," Chastenier's charming piano on Walden's "No Bounds," Tillman's electric cello on the leader's thematic "Otterkam." Walden also wrote "In the Doghouse" and "Try Harder" and arranged every number. The lively opener, "Winter Games," composed by David Foster for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Italy, reserves space for romping solos by tenor Brandon Fields and drummer Ray Brinker.
Vocal star Tierney Sutton, paying a return visit (she sang once on Home of My Heart), is heard to good advantage on "Smile" and "People Will Say We're in Love." Alto Kim Richmond is the headliner on "When You Wish Upon a Star," pianist Alan Steinberger on "Someday My Prince Will Come" (in delightful waltz time), from the Disney films Pinocchio and Snow White, respectively. "Try Harder" and "It's a Small World After All" are the album's requisite flag-wavers, the former featuring baritone Tom Peterson, trumpeter Kye Palmer and drummer Gregg Field, the latter trombonist Alex Iles and trumpeter Carl Saunders. Walden (flugel), Steinberg and alto Jeff Driskill deliver playful solos on the dynamic "Doghouse."
Those who appreciated Home of My Heartˇand based on its reception, their numbers are sizableˇare certain to embrace No Bounds, as should anyone who admires resourceful, well-designed big band jazz.