Dave Slonaker Big Band

Convergency

origin 82851

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Jan van Leersum, RootsTime (Belgium)

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Composer/arranger Dave Slonaker believes we are living in a new golden age for big bands and given the success of his 2013 debut album "Intrada" he is probably right. Not only was the album nominated for a Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble album but it also received excellent reviews. Slonaker's music is contemporary in the best sense of the word, harmonically refined yet always accessible thanks to a straightforward reliance on time-honoured melodies and rhythms, i.e. this is big band jazz that quickens the heartbeat, swings hard and tradition strengthens. The musicians on this album are a who's who from the jazz top in Southern California. On trumpet/flugelhorn we hear Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Ryan Deweese, Clay Jenkins and Ron Stout, on trombone Alex Iles, Charlie Morillas and Ido Meshulam , Bill Reichenbach on bass trombone and tuba, on saxophone Bob Sheppard, Brian Scanlon, Rob Lockart, Tom Luer, Adam Schroeder and Jay Mason, the rhythm section consists of Larry Koonse on el. guitar, Ed Czach on piano, Edwin Livingston on double bass, Peter Erskine on drums and Brian Kilgore on percussion.

Slonaker has worked in Hollywood for over 30 years and is widely regarded as one of the top arrangers/orchestrators in the film and television world. He provided the music for films such as Spiderman, Men in black and Air Force One and for the television episodes of Star Trek, JAG and Murder she wrote. That's all great and it brings in money, but a composer finds a real artistic challenge mainly by expressing himself through purely own songs. For "Convergency" Slonaker wrote 10 of the 11 compositions, various styles can be heard. "I'm like a sponge that has absorbed a wide range of influences, from the Jazz Messenger groups and Blue Note recordings of the late 50's, 60's and 70's to Thad Jones and Bob Brookmeyer to the Yellowjackets and Pat Metheny, but one of the greatest influences on my writing and arranging is undoubtedly Bill Holman," said Dave Slonaker.

The album opens with the title track "Convergency", a big fan of Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, Slonaker wrote the song as a mini concerto for big band using the different sections and structures as building blocks to a dazzling finale. "A Gathering Circle" was inspired by a visit to an Indian village museum, where there was a space called The gathering circle intended as a gathering place for the villagers. In these politically polarized times in the U.S. the idea of a village that really comes together appealed to him. As a young trombonist Slonaker was a big fan of the Jazz Crusaders who had a front line with a trombone and a tenor sax, in "Sometimes A Notion" he uses that same line-up. Slonaker wrote "And now the news" especially for the four-piece trombone section. "I had the craziest dream" by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon is one of the first songs Slonaker learned when he was studying piano in high school and it still sticks with him. Big bands are actually not one of my favorite jazz genres, but then I forget all those Duke Ellington and Count Basie LPs that are in my closet, all great music! But Dave Slonaker's big band can also be there, great music that radiates enthusiasm and fun playing!








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