Most college stage bands feature enthusiastic ensembles and weak soloists. That is to be expected because, although the students have been well trained in reading music and playing together as sections, it takes time to develop one's own voice as an improviser. However the Mt. Hood Jazz Band is a different case altogether. On I'm Still Here, they not only sound like a professional jazz orchestra in their ensembles, but they feature consistently creative and inventive solos. Certainly no one listening to altoist Max Bryk solo on John Coltrane's "Grand Central" is going to think of him as a mere student. And while three pros (trombonist Stan Bock, trumpeter Thara Memory, and Nancy King who sings "I've Got You Under My Skin") are heard one time apiece, their presence, while welcome, was not needed to make this a very musical and surprising set. Quite a few players have opportunities to solo and none sound like teenagers or beginners. The arrangements of such tunes as Carl Saunders' "I'm All for You" (based on "Body and Soul"), John Clayton's "I Be Serious 'Bout Dem Blues" (which has solo space for eight players), and Phil Kelly's "The Refrigerator" are also added pluses. All in all, I'm Still Here (a title that is never explained) is one of the strongest college band records of 2007.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow