Chris Walden was born and raised in Germany, where he received his musical education. He now lives and works in Los Angeles as a musician, composer and arranger. He has scored more than 30 feature and TV films, and arranged works for numerous artists and the Chicago Symphony.
With that background, it's no surprise that the band utilized on this CD is more than merely "big" ... it's huge! This ensemble consists of five saxes, seven trumpet/flugelhorns (one of whom is Walden), five trombones, two pianists, vibes, guitar, bass and drums, along with a female vocalist ... all in conjunction with an even bigger orchestra (16 violins, six violas, seven cellos, four French horns, three contrabasses, and a harp).
Before you scoff, let me assure you that this entire combination sounds fantastic.
Many artists and bands have tried adding classical instruments for concerts and recording sessionns; except for ballads, the result often detracts from the core band. That is decidedly not the case with Walden's group; the classical sections fill in passages without making the overall combination feel stodgy. Credit Walden's brilliant arrangements and the excellence of the artists involved.
A total of 14 different musicians are featured as soloists on various tracks. Til Bronner, who played with Walden in Germany, perfroms a gorgeous trumpet solo on his own composition, "Clax's Theme."
Walden arranged, conducted and produced all the tracks and wrote four numbers:"No Bounds," "Try Harder," "Otterkam" and "In The Doghouse." The latter is particularly clever: an "argument between husband and wife" takes place, involving separate sections of the band, leading to the (husband's?) visit to the canine motel. The disagreement is resolved by the end of the track!
According to Walden's liner notes, the three Disney tunes- "When You Wish Upon A Star," "Somday My Prince Will Come" and "It's A Small World After All" - were included as a result of multiple trips to Disneyland with his children. Tierney Sutton sings (beautifully, I might add) "Smile" and "People Will Say We're In Love," and the latter also boasts Bob McChesney's gorgeous trombone solo.
Walden's 2005 album, "Home of My Heart," was a Grammy nominee; "Winter Games" was released as a single just in time for Italy's winter Olympic Games. That's not nearly enough wider exposure; this band is outstanding, and its future is unlimited.