The Indianapolis based big band of trumpeter Mark Buselli and trombonist Brent Wallarab was formed in 1994 as a group that focused on instrumental arrangements and compositions. They also produced a fine effort, Carol of the Bells, in 2007, dedicated to adaptations of holiday music, and have worked with local jazz singers. Here the band hands centerstage over to the underappreciated singer Everett Greene, who uses his deep bass baritone much in the style of Billy Eckstine or Joe Williams, but has his own personalized way of phrasing that identifies him as an incurable romantic. He's not without his kick of blues or splash of fun, but he basically tugs at heartstrings and offers dissertations of unrequited love. The downsized arrangements are similar to what a modern-day Count Basie might utilize, but they are a trifle heftier, admittedly influenced by Marty Paich, with a balanced instrumentation between saxes and brass. As the charts are smaller, the concentrated sound of the group is not, supplying a rich tapestry of colors to illuminate the singing of the profoundly wise Greene. He's effectively using vocal embers instead of flames with French horn and brass asides on "My Romance," and is perfectly melancholy during "I'll Be Around." Most like Joe Williams, Greene convincingly sings the wishfully thinking "Where or When" with an Ernie Wilkins-like arrangement, goes to a lighter side on the bossa nova flavored "Watch What Happens," or is reflectively triggered by the flute of Mike Stricklin with the horns trailing along during the ballad "My Foolish Heart." If you enjoy the singing of Greene, heard here at age 72, please refer to his 1998 Savant label CD also titled My Foolish Heart. Cynthia Layne is the singer for three tracks that are also very good, and showcase her pliable, perfect pitch, sophisticated voice. The contemporary arrangement of "L-O-V-E" sports a sensual and spiritual confluence with Stricklin's soprano as the base color, "Avalon" is the hottest bopper of the set with the energetic counterpointed cross section horns urging Layne onward, while "Teach Me Tonight" is a straight blues. There are two instrumentals; the easy swinging and gentle "Wonderland" and the expanded, rearranged treatment of "More Than You Know." Buselli and Wallarab are more than capable musicians and soloists, tenor saxophonist Rob Dixon and Stricklin are the rising stars deserving some national acclaim, while pianist Luke Gillespie is very worthy of some notice in his deft phrasings and shadings of these pieces out of the limelight. Territory bands have been around since the dawn of the big-band era, and because of economics, this band may not be in your town soon. Buying this CD will somewhat rectify that problem.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos
feat: Cynthia Layne
feat: Brent Wallarab
feat: Cynthia Layne