Outside of New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, there are few areas, if any, that have the depth and breadth of talent to support a major repertory orchestra. And perhaps even with these, the major markets might have a problem putting together a permanently standing aggregation which meets the definition of repertory in the manner that the rotating 17-member Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra has done since their inception in 1995. According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, repertory refers to "a company that presents several different plays, opera, or [musical] pieces usually alternatively in the course of a season." This is precisely what is presented on this CD. There are pieces played and/or written by such jazz giants as Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, and Charles Mingus played by the orchestra live from 1997 though 2001. But the favorites are Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, who are represented by four items. Not only are these two favored, but the concept that the orchestra is the instrument developed by Ellington is clearly the preference of the orchestra's co-directors, Clarence Acox and Michael Brockman. But like Ellington's bands, there is plenty of room for solos. And what a crew to pick from. There's the veteran saxman Don Lanphere, top-ranked pianist Marc Seales, multi-virtuoso Jay Thomas, alto sax player Mark Taylor, David Marriott Jr. on trombone, and Floyd Standifer on trumpet. The band is driven by Acox on drums and they show no mercy on such cuts as "Jumpin' at the Woodside." Most of these players have CDs of their own on the market. The group not only can swing, but oozes sophistication and elegance on "Blue and Sentimental," which features a bluesy clarinet by Dan Wickham. All around good stuff; this CD is highly recommended.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan