Too many big band recordings sound the same, using hackneyed techniques and voicings. But this album sounds different right from the very start ñ an imaginative arrangement of David Foster's Winter Games. The ensemble sound is a knockout, possibly because Chris Walden uses six trumpets and five trombones, creating a rich and rare depth to the music.
The solos in between the ensembles are more conventional but all skilfully played, maintaining one's interest. The orchestration gains added depth from the use of a string section and French horns on the title track and Clax's Theme, the latter a composition by Till Bronner spotlighting his lonely-sounding trumpet. Vocalist Tierney Sutton is featured on People Will Say We're in Love (with a cleverly dislocated rhythm) and the delicately understated Smile. Variety is further ensured by the electric cello solo in Otterkam and the man-and-wife bickering of In the Doghouse (with Chris Walden himself soloing elegantly on flugelhorn).
The main reason this CD stands out from the crowd is Chris's arranging skill. He came originally from Germany but is now working very effectively in Los Angeles, as this album testifies.