Michael Davis

Brass Nation

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Just look at this lineup! It is a who's who of modern brass, with more than 50 instrumentalists, including some of the cream of the brass community: trombonists Bob McChesney, Andy Martin, Dick Nash, and Joe Alessi, and trumpeters Randy Brecker, Chuck Findley, Lew Soloff, and Tim Hagans. The highly talented Michael Davis produced, led, composed, and arranged all the tunes, and he solos throughout. While there are improvisational contributions by Lew Soloff and Randy Brecker, most of the brass talent is relegated to section parts, missing an opportunity to showcase the remarkable range of musicians collected together. Davis comes from the Carl Fontana school of trombone playing, with an impressively light, smooth, and slippery doodle-do tonguing. As an arranger, Davis prefers deep, heavy, and brooding brass sounds, mixing funk and big-band jazz. His arrangement of "Heartland" for a ten-trombone choir is dense and charmingly sophisticated, while "State of the Art" is solidly swinging. Admirers of the trombone and brass generally will wish to own this unusual recording. While the end results do not quite live up to the expectations, there is still plenty of fine music to be found. Three cheers to Michael Davis for the concept, organizing skills, and ability to bring this project to fruition.

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