Dedication Suite

Danish Radio Big Band / Jim McNeely

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Dedication Suite Review

by Ken Dryden

Jim McNeely took over the leadership of the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra from Bob Brookmeyer in 1998 and remained until 2002; this CD is his final recording with the illustrious band. The leader wrote the six-part "Dedication Suite" for the group, pairing two soloists in each movement, though the compositions are a bit unconventional, often as if written in fragments to accompany an unseen film. The moving "Mourning (For Manny)" salutes the late and gifted composer/arranger/bandleader Manny Albam. "Ahhhhhhhhhh..." is a somewhat whimsical work, opening with Vincent Nilsson's sassy muted trombone, backed by an intermittent, somewhat mysterious orchestral background. "Muckian's Bluff" represents McNeely's decidedly modern take on an Irish jig, featuring heated solos by guitarist Anders Lindvall and tenor saxophonist Lars Moller. Like Brookmeyer, it seems that European jazz fans are more appreciative of Jim McNeely's considerable gifts as a composer/arranger, and this release -- along with all of his work in any size group -- is well worth acquiring.

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