Bruce Lofgren Jazz Orchestra

Heart of the Night

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Bruce Lofgren, who wrote nine of the ten selections on his recent Sea Breeze CD, along with all of the arrangements, attempts to reconcile two different idioms: the big band tradition and pop/funk jazz. While Sam Riney does a close imitation of Kenny G. on "Fern Hill," and altoist Glen Garrett (showcased on two numbers) clearly has David Sanborn as his inspiration, most of the music is more original. Lofgren uses a reasonable amount of variety (with funky rhythms and electronics on some tracks) in updating the big band sound. Ron King has a couple of good trumpet solos, and guitarist Carl Verheyen gets to freak out a bit on "Alien Love." Among the most memorable performances is the one vocal piece, "Indigo Sky," which boasts superior lyrics by Lorraine Feather, and an excellent vocal by Janis Siegel. But otherwise, the emphasis is on the tricky and well-played ensembles. Although not a great melodist (none of these tunes are by themselves all that catchy), Lofgren knows how to get the most out of the many colors that are available to him in his 17-piece band (which includes two French horns and a six-piece rhythm section) and there are enough unpredictable moments to hold one's interest.

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