Mark Masters

Jimmy Knepper Songbook

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This recording is a bit of a surprise, for it features the Mark Masters Jazz Orchestra performing eight Jimmy Knepper compositions. Knepper is much better known for his individual bop-based trombone style than for his writing. However, Masters' colorful arrangements for his 14-piece big band show that Knepper is a talented composer too. In general the melodies are fresher than the chord changes (one can often guess the original sources), but the charts have their unpredictable moments on this continually interesting CD. In addition to such fine soloists as trumpeter Johnny Coles, tenor saxophonist Jerry Pinter, pianist Tommy Gill, Jr., altoist Gary Foster, and baritonist Danny House (who is powerful on the blues "Who You"), Knepper himself is a major force throughout the program, soloing on all but two numbers and sounding very much in his prime. A highly recommended straight-ahead set.