While most modern jazz focuses attention on the hot soloist who sells records with flashy chops and a flashier smile, there are some who still believe that the true art form is in the realm of the composer who gives birth to the music itself. When that music is written and arranged for a formidable ensemble like a contemporary big band, the task is even greater. Pianist Diane Moser provides the forum for her collected group of composer/players with her Composer's Big Band, which performs regularly near her central New Jersey home base. This stupendously rendered live set captures the results of their efforts in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
The group moves through the many complex arrangements, from rhythmically challenging ensemble passages to swinging solo choruses, as easily as if they were playing standards. The range of styles the band covers goes from straight-ahead swingers ("Triple Blues") and harmonically challenging barnstorms ("Hale Bop") to an ostensibly anomalous Sinatra-style vocal number ("Too Close For Comfort"). The many highlights are provided by such talented composer/musicians as Barbara Allen, Jim Cifelli, Rob Middleton, and Ed Xiques, all of whom can surely produce some grand smiles of their own.