A talented arranger who considers Thad Jones, Gil Evans, Bill Holman, and Gerry Mulligan to be his influences, Gary Urwin's highly individual writing actually sounds like none of those masters. On Living in the Moment, his second recording for the Sea Breeze label, Urwin contributes some swinging charts, complex but accessible ballads, a Latin piece, and a few contemporary works. Urwin's sidemen include some of the finest players based in Los Angeles, including tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb, altoist Kim Richmond (also soloing on soprano and alto flute), pianist Christian Jacob, and such guests as trombonist Bill Watrous, flutist Ali Ryerson (who is actually from the East Coast), guitarist John Pisano, and trumpeters Carl Saunders and Steve Huffsteter. However it is the arrangements that are the main reason for this project's success. While "East of the Sun" and "Slow Boat to China" swing happily, "I'm a Fool to Want You" becomes a 6/4 romp, Bill Evans' "Time Remembered" is floating and mysterious (with Amy Shulman's harp adding to the atmosphere), "'Round Midnight" is turned into a double-time jazz waltz, and "Lush Life" (normally a slow ballad) is taken at a fast-medium pace before becoming Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." The program closes with a second brief version of "East of the Sun," played as a ballad duet by Christlieb and Jacob. There are plenty of other subtle surprises scattered throughout this set, resulting in Living in the Moment being one of the better big-band albums of the early 21st century.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow