The solid big-band players who occupy chairs in Kevin Seeley's Emerald City Jazz Orchestra are from the active Seattle jazz scene. This, their maiden album, is highly listenable due to fresh and innovative arrangements of a play list that accommodates a modern big band. Jazz material such as Miles Davis' "So What" is side by side with originals and classic standards. An example of a well-conceived musical format is "It's Only a Paper Moon," highlighted by Reuel Lubag's Count Basie-like piano and punctuated from time to time by blaring horns and softer reeds filling up the space left by Lubag. Several of the band members contributed charts. As good as they are, Matso Limtiaco, who doubles on baritone sax, is responsible for most of the freshness on this album. Limtiaco wrote nine of the 13 arrangements and composed the distinctive three-movement "Oregon Coast Sketches." The movements are "Kites," "Moonlight and Mo's," and "Tolovana Stomp." One hears the influences of Bill Holman and Bob Florence in this work. The album is also notable for distinguished soloing and tight ensemble playing. Mark Taylor's alto on "Nancy" and Thomas Marriott's trumpet on "I Remember Clifford" are two that rate special mention. The version of "Waltzing Mathilda" may raise the eyebrows of Aussies everywhere, with its quirky rhythmic patterns and abrupt coda by piano player Lubag as he interpolates a couple of bars from "Billy Boy." This album demonstrates that the Emerald City Jazz Orchestra is the epitome of a modern big band. This album is highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan