Inspired and cutting edge, the Danjam Orchestra's debut album Sudden Appearance explores jazz from swinging hard bop melodies to ethereal free moments.
Led by Canadian composer, educator and performer Daniel Jamieson, the orchestra is made up of former Manhattan School of Music students and professional musicians, most significantly John Riley on drums. Jamieson said that the difference between many big bands today and this group is that his compositions are tailored specifically for the players in his orchestra.
"When I wrote and arranged this music, it was with these musicians in mind," said Jamieson, who believes that his players' individual characteristics allow the band to have a unique sound. It gives me as a conductor and composer a lot of options, and ways to make the band sound different from a typical big band."
One such case is Jamieson's composition "Song for Anna," where Anna Webber, featured on flute, interacts interpretively with the rhythm section, producing a completely improvised and ever-changing sound. The piece's haunting melody, coupled with auxiliary percussion from Eddy Hackett leave the listener grasping for a final resolution.
Particularly intriguing is Jamieson's ode to hard bop in "Crunch Peanut Butter." The swinging melody, played by trumpet and baritone sax turns into a burning solo for Sam Dillon.
Throughout CPB, and embedded in Jamieson's work is a unique style of layering and pairing of instruments that changes the way one hears a big band. From the coupled baritone and trumpet to guitar and saxophone pairings and specialized trombone background voicings, there's something new for every level of jazz listener throughout the CD.
Jamieson takes a solo on his version of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" where once again, trumpet is paired with flute to begin the piece, countered by guitar and drums. The layering and dense chordal backgrounds give way to Chaplin's melody and bring together all of the bands unique qualities on a neat, thoughtful wrap to the debut album.
Jamieson and the Danjam Orchestra will release the CD at a party at Miles Cafe on East 52nd Street in New York City on Sunday May 15 at 10 p.m.