Phil Kelly is a bit of an anachronism: a drummer who's also a prolific jazz composer and arranger.
He has written literally hundreds of charts for dozens of groups. His first CD for Origin - "Convergence Zone" with a Seattle-based band he calls the NW Prevailing Winds - was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award. Having succeeded in the Pacific Northwest (Kelly lives in Bellingham, Washington), he decided to change locales for his next release.
He contacted some of his friends who work in the Los Angeles studio/jazz arena, packed up his charts and, with several of his northwest cohorts, flew to the land of the palms to put together a new big band cadre. During just two days, he produced "My Museum" with this new group, which he calls the SW Santa Ana Winds.
The results are amazing, considering the two-day time constraint, and the fact that most of the musicians hadn't previously seen - or played - any of these charts. This is another true big band: four trumpets/flugelhorns, four trombones, five woodwinds, and a five-performer rhythm section. Not to mention the string section - seven violins, two violas, two cellos and a vocalist - that was added for the title track.
This CD's nine cuts are arranged by Kelly; five are his own compositions.
The opening track - "Jeanine," an old Duke Pearson tune made popular by Cannonball Adderley - sets the tone for this group, and it really swings. Kelly wrote the next two cuts, "Bluelonious" (a tribute to Thelonious Monk) and "Pleading Dim Cap." The first is a slooow
blues, the second a Bill Holman-type exercise in diminished scales.
"Body and Soul" is done as an up-tempo samba, a refreshing take on that old gem. "Zip Code 2005," a reboot of an arrangement Kelly did for the Bill Watrous Manhattan Refuge group back in 1973, clearly demonstrates just how far ahead of their time both the arranger and band were.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to future "Compass Wind" groups.