Sunday, December 18, 2016

Phil Norman "Then & Now"

The tentet is not a new concept. Decades ago, big band leaders often had to reduce expenses, and trimming their numbers was one way of doing it. An exception to this practice was the very creative Marty Paich Dek-Tette which flourished in the fifties. Paich was based in L.A., as is Phil Norman. In this deep well of jazz talent, Norman has handpicked some premier players like Carl Saunders, trumpet; Scott Whitfield, trombone; and Christian Jacob, piano, among others. The CD begins with the very familiar "Johnny's Theme" which opened Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show for many years. Among other highlights are a Shearing-esque "Lullaby Of Birdland"; a tip of the hat to Ahmad Jamal on "Poinciana"; a nifty take on Gerry Mulligan's "Line For Lyons"; and welcome revisits to jazz standards such as Miles Davis's "So What", Benny Golson's "Killer Joe"; and Dizzy's "Manteca". On these and lots more---twelve in all---Phil Norman and friends stay right on course with innovative arrangements and outstanding solo work. Straight ahead stuff, extremely well-performed. That's what's going on here!

Mama Records; 2016; appx. 70 min.

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