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Bill Watrous - Space Available



Bill Watrous

Trumpet Section               Trombone Section              Saxophone Section               Rhythm Section
Dennis Farias                     Doug Inman                        Sal Lozano                           Piano Shelly Berg
Wayne Bergeron                Bob McChesney                  Phil Feather                          Bass Trey Henry

Bob Summers                    Wendell Kelly                     Bill Liston                              Drums Randy Drake
Darrel Gardiner                  Rich Bullock                        Gene Burkurt
Steve Huffsteter                                                             Bob Carr

Space Available (6:44)
The Road Goes Ever Onward (7:44)
It'll Count If It Goes (9:39)
My Foolish Heart (6:15)
Mama Llama Samba (9:50)
My Romance (6:16)
I Got D'ZZZs (10:59)
Village Dance (13:05)

Listen to CD Tracks

The Artist: 

    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.

The Band:
    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.

    The Refuge 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.

The Music:
    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.

    Goodwin’s 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 Tom Kubis
     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, Bill Watrous

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 Frank Perowsky
    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 Gordon Goodwin
    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 of duty.
    Solos: Steve Huffsteter, Bill Liston, Bill Watrous

6. My Romance (6:16) by Shelly Berg
    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 Goodwin
    This is one of Gordon Goodwin's true burners. It features four soloist, and a long, and very difficult sax solo.
    Solos: Shelly Berg, Sal Lozano, Bill Liston, Bill Watrous

8. Village Dance (13:05) by Tom Kubis
    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

 Bill Watrous '97