This lost recording was originally performed 'live' at the City College of New York in 2005, sixteen years ago. During the 2020 pandemic, when Scott Reeves had time on his hands, like thousands of other musicians, out of curiosity, Scott Reeves gave this long shelved project a listen.
"I was excited to hear how the quintet played so well together and I felt this may have been among my own personal bests. During the time of this recording, I was experimenting with electronic enhancements; a pitch follower and a ring modulator. Russ Spiegel's electric guitar paired well with my electronically nuanced alto flugelhorn and alto valve trombone in the front line, colored by mike Holober's use of grand piano and Fender Rhodes. It allowed us to find that border between the warmth of more traditional forms of jazz and the edginess of more experimental styles. I decided that this music needed to be heard!" Reeves explained.
They open the concert with "New Bamboo," a song that allows a certain freedom for the musicians to improvise on top of the energy-driven, 'vamp' feel. All five of the six songs recorded are composed by Scott Reeves. "Shapeshifter" is track 2 and introduces an intense and challenging melody that is also quite beautiful. Reeves steps forward to blow his solo from the bell of his horn. He spews a rich and powerful tone. Next, Andy Watson takes a notable drum solo, with Mike Holober playing staccato chords in the background. After the drums, Holober introduces us to his piano expertise, sounding rather like a humming bird is flying up and down the 88-keys with trembling wings. There are electronic colorations in the background, that create unobtrusive highlights during this arrangement. The band of five sounds a lot larger than a quintet. "The Alchemist" is one of my favorites on this production and is the title tune. It taps into fusion jazz and has a wonderful, repeatable melody that sticks to your brain like Velcro.
Scott Reeves plays trombone with the Dave Liebman big band and has performed with the Vanguard Orchestra, with Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, as well as with familiar artists like John Patitucci, Ron Carter, Rich Perry, Kenny Werner, Steve Wilson and more. Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra has released two CDs and Scott is a Professor Emeritus at the City College of New York and has taught at the Juilliard School and various other universities. His bandmates, guitarist Russ Spiegel and pianist Mike Holober are both prolific composers, especially for big band. With this combination of players, all steeped in big band harmonics, could explain why this quintet has such a splendiferous, larger-than-life sound. Holober is also a professor of Music at the City College of New York and has taught at the Manhattan School of Music. He's written music for the Frankfurt Radio Big Band and the WDR band, as well as arranged for artists like Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, Dr. Lonnie Smith and John Scofield, to name a few. London born Howard Britz is also a composer and not only a gifted bassist, but is also a competent pianist. He's recorded four CDs as a bandleader and has been a sideman for jazz and Latin groups including work with Billy Pierce, Canilo Perez, Paquito de Rivera, Kenny Wheeler and Edsel Gomez. Finally, drummer Andy Watson is celebrated on the East Coast for his unerring sense of time and groove. He also is an astute sight-reader. Close friends refer to him as "The Sheriff" because of his innate ability to lock-in any unruly horn sections. Andy has performed with the Vanguard Orchestra and various iconic jazz artists like the great Benny Golson, the unforgettable Jon Hendricks, legendary Lew Tabackin, unforgettable James Moody, Joe Lovano, Woody Herman, Tashiko Akiyoshi and Jim Hall. What's not to love about this quintet?