In the 1930s and early '40s, jazz was famous for its big bands. Whether you were going to see Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, or a local orchestra that never played outside of your home town, big bands were a crucial part of jazz in those days. But after World War II, big bands became a minority. Thankfully, they didn't disappear altogether; some bop and post-bop legends were lucky enough to specialize in big bands (including Gil Evans and Oliver Nelson), and many improvisers who specialize in small groups will record the occasional big-band date. In the 1990s, Jim Knapp, who doesn't play any instruments on this 1998 session Things for Now, was doing his part to keep the big band tradition alive. His role is that of a conductor and arranger, and Knapp's appreciation of Evans comes through on his own compositions as well as arrangements of Lee Konitz's "Subconscious Lee," Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks," and the Christmas carol "The Little Drummer Boy" (which Knapp's orchestra brings Afro-Cuban elements to). The CD is mostly instrumental, although singer Jay Clayton has some nice spots on the standards "Where or When" and "The Nearness of You." Things For Now isn't distinctive or groundbreaking; Evans was doing this type of thing in the 1950s. But it's decent and pleasing, if derivative.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson