Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra

The Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra

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The first recording of this Toronto-based big band is an enjoyable outing. The diversity of material on the album reflects the differing interests of the band's four arrangers (which include non-member Phil Nimmons, who contributes a marvelous arrangement of Johnny Mandel's "Emily.") McMurdo has written three of his own charts for the recording, the most enjoyable of which is a lovely arrangement of Don Sebesky's ballad "You Can't Go Home Again," which soloist Mike Malone reads perfectly, at times sounding rather surprisingly like Miles Davis. Malone adds one composition to the album, his epic "Rivers," which is a treasure, drifting through a variety of feels and tempos, often recalling Gil Evans' simultaneously light yet thick writing. The arrangement climaxes with a splintering, chaotic solo by tenorist Pat LaBarbera, who unfortunately has only one more solo on the record. The perfomance is fine, if not up to the caliber of the writing; there are occasional tuning problems within the band, and at times, sounds slightly underrehearsed. This is a fine record, but the band sounds stronger on later releases.

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