Watrous - Space Available
Space Available (6:44)
The Road Goes Ever
It'll Count If It Goes (9:39)
My Foolish Heart
Mama Llama Samba (9:50)
My Romance (6:16)
Village Dance (13:05)
Bill Watrous is one of a handful of artists
who has influenced a generation of players. The velvety, hornlike tone
quality, amazing agility and range, and trademark, “doodle-tonguing” have
combined to prompt many an aspiring trombonist to throw the horn off a
cliff. As Bill’s storied career has progressed his playing has grown
deeper and more lyrical, to the point where this recording finds the
legendary artist at his mature best. His solo on “My Foolish Heart” is
transcendently moving, a tapestry of interconnected and deeply sentimental
thoughts. On the other end of the spectrum is the incredibly facile
“Village Dance,” where phrases of gymnastic proportion spin effortlessly
from the instrument. The concluding cadenza features another of Bill’s
oft-imitated trademarks, multiphonics, a device in which two melodies are
occurring simultaneously! At this point in time there are many Bill
Watrous imitators, but this album firmly establishes the actuality that
there is nothing like the original.
Over the last few years, patrons of the Tuesday Night Big Band Concerts at
the Moonlight Tango club in Sherman Oaks have created quite a buzz over
Bill Watrous' great ensemble. With a tenure of six years on the “Refuge
West” Big Band, I am one of the babies of the group. Los Angeles boasts a
number of successful rehearsal bands, whose itinerant personnel move in
and out regularly, but this aggregation is a band. These musicians have
honed an uncanny ability to shape every nuance as one voice. It is no
wonder that the legendary group Chicago chose this ensemble as a musical
partner for their latest recording. The lead playing of Sal Lozano, Bob
McChesney, and the tandem of Dennis Farias and Wayne Bergeron is one of
the most satisfying components of this musical offering. And the grooves
laid down by Trey Henry and Randy Drake are at once classic and on the
leading edge of invention.
West is likewise a refuge for sensational soloists, particularly
trumpeters Bob Summers and Steve Hufsteter and saxophonist Bill Liston.
Summers’ statement on “It’ll Count If It Goes” is a wonderful example of
style that is free from cliche and constantly probing the possibilities
for melodic development. Liston exhibits a full and penetrating sound,
which he enlists for dramatic and thrilling choruses. From the opening
title cut of this CD, Liston establishes the unrelenting swing that will
pervade the entire release.
This project brings to light some great writing that, heretofore, has been
a well-kept secret, known only to a coterie of L.A. jazz club devotees.
The driving element behind the repertoire is the work of two outstanding
Southern California-bred composers, Gordon Goodwin and Tom Kubis. Kubis'
work is a staple of the big band scene, whether being performed by his own
outstanding group or by virtually any and all of the great university
bands around the U.S., Tom's collaboration with trumpeter, Jack Sheldon is
another highlight. Gordon Goodwin, on the other hand, has been omnipresent
in the television arena, with virtually dozens of series' to his credit
spanning all of the major networks.
writing is full of whimsy, and at the same time a virtual how-to manual
for big band textures. “It’ll Count If It Goes” features a melody that is
complex in structure, and yet so “in the pocket” that the listener can’t
help but smile. Another Goodwin creation, “Mama Lama Samba,” has been an
L.A. crowd favorite for years. This composition is truly a tour de force
for the entire ensemble.
Kubis is best
known for post bop renderings on standard chord progressions. “Space
Available” displays the virtuosic solo style and flag waving shout chorus
of this composer’s finest works. The recording concludes with a Kubis
original, “Village Dance,” which is one of the most exhilarating works in
the Refuge West Library.
In short, this
CD is the long overdue documentation of some of the best music that the
West Coast has seen over the last two decades, and you, the listener, are
the welcome recipient.
Shelly Berg - March '97
1. Space Available (6:44) by
This is a "Golden Oldie" by the pen
of Tom Kubis. Written on the changes of "Blues My Naughty Sweetie," it
features Bill Liston on tenor sax, and opens up with the superb Shelly
Berg on piano. Randy Drake on drums boots it all home with my buddy Dennis
Farias leading the brass section on the way out.
Solos: Shelly Berg, Bill Liston, Bill Watrous
2. The Road Goes Ever Onward
(7:44) by Ken Kaplan
This Latin influenced piece
has an interesting melodic flow, featuring Gene Burkurt on tenor sax. This
chart is one of my favorites. The textures here are interesting and
unusual for a big band chart.
Solos: Gene Burkurt,
3. It'll Count If It Goes (9:39)
by Gordon Goodwin
The title refers to the Los
Angeles Laker's announcer, Chick Hearm, who coined the title phrase while
announcing the Lakers games. This features the great Bob Summers, as well
as a sparkling ensemble playing from all hands.
Solos: Bob Summers, Bill Watrous
4. My Foolish Heart (6:15) by
This gorgeous Victor Young tune is
given straight ahead treatment in the classic ballad tradition. Shelly
Berg is also featured on this chart. Shelly is magnificent!
Solos: Shelly Berg, Bill Watrous
5. Mama Llama Samba (9:50) by
This chart is one of the bands
favorites. Wayne Bergeron leads the brass section and Sal Lozano heads up
the superb sax section. This remarkable piece is above and beyond the call
Solos: Steve Huffsteter, Bill Liston, Bill
6. My Romance (6:16) by Shelly
This chart is a marvelous showcase for any
soloist who can play in a vocal style. Shelly has marvelous control of the
orchestral writing style.
Solos: Bill Watrous
7. I Got D'ZZZs (10:59) by Gordon
This is one of Gordon Goodwin's true
burners. It features four soloist, and a long, and very difficult sax
Solos: Shelly Berg, Sal Lozano, Bill Liston,
8. Village Dance (13:05) by Tom
We use this up tempo tune as our closer on
most of our live sets and the audience loves it!
Solos: Bob Summers, Sal Lozano, Bill Watrous