After the massive success of his 2013 debut album, Intranda, Dave Slonaker perceived the time to be ripe for a new era of Big Band music. His new album, Convergency, is the brilliant and much-anticipated follow-up.
Performing Slonaker's originals are a fantastic collection of favorite artists like Larry Koonse on guitar, Bob Sheppard on alto and soprano sax and flute, and the great Peter Erkine on drums. The full line-up includes:
Brian Scanlon - alto sax, flute, clarinet, Rob Lockart - tenor sax, clarinet, Tom Luer - tenor sax, clarinet, Adam Schroeder - (track 1,4,5,7) baritone sax, bass clarinet, Jay Mason - (track 2,3,6,7,8,9,10) baritone sax, bass clarinet, Wayne Bergeron - trumpet, flugelhorn, Dan Fornero - (track 1,4,5,7) trumpet, flugelhorn, Ryan DeWeese - (track 2,3,6,7,8,9,10) trumpet, flugelhorn, Clay Jenkins - trumpet, flugelhorn, Ron Stout - trumpet, flugelhorn, Alex Iles - trombone, Charlie Morillas - trombone, Ido Meshulam - trombone, Bill Reichenbach - bass trombone, tuba, Ed Czach - piano, Edwin Livingston - bass, and Brian Kilgore - (track 2,4,9) percussion.
This band swings and swing hard. Of course, it could be the Billy Bob Middle School Kazoo Band and Slonaker's compositions would still shine through. But this band does full justice and honor to those fabulous compositions.
The album kicks off with the title track, Convergency, and never lets up throughout the rest of this stellar album. Keep your ears open for Peter Erskine's great drumming. Uncommonly Ground gets the first of the cool Larry Koonse solos and Tom Luer's alto sax is worth the price of admission.
As any Jazz aficionado knows, it is the chart that drives a big band piece and these Slonaker arrangements are amazing. Listen to those arrangements over and over and see what I mean.
A Gathering Circle is a lovely and emotional piece with great solos from Brian Scanlon on soprano sax, Koonse, and Erskine. This is a great track among great tracks. Inner Voices is in the same vein with Ron Stout on trumpet and Rob Lockart on tenor sax for solos. Then listen for bassist Edwin Livingston's solo on Sometimes a Notion.
And Now the News is a Latin rhythm beauty. The trombones take over for the solos and they push the tune powerfully. This is riotously good fun.
The album concludes with I Had the Craziest Dream. The ethereal trumpet sounds like Gabriel calling you home. Credit Wayne Bergeron for that. It is soaring and compelling and soulful. What a way to end an album.
Dave Slonaker's Convergency is just what a Big Band fan would hope to hear from the composer/arranger who gave us Intrada. From hard swings to delicate ballads to glorious romps, this is a wonderful addition to the world of Big Band.