The John Fedchock New York Big Band is an exception in the 21st century, a big band that has lasted for an extended period with nearly all of its original members. Back in 1989, trombonist John Fedchock recruited some of the most talented session players in New York City for his large ensemble, though they were relative unknowns at the time. Over a period of years and a number of recordings together, the band has turned into somewhat of an institution, thanks to both the outstanding musicianship and the leader's impressive charts. Fedchock reharmonized the standard "Embraceable You" while keeping it accessible, bringing new life to an old warhorse. Shifting John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" into a Latin setting (with able assistance from Bobby Sanabria on timbales) is also a distinctive detour from typical arrangements. Fedchock's originals merit equal attention to his settings of others' compositions. The lively "J Birds" is a fun feature for the leader and fellow trombonist Steve Davis. "Elvin's Empire" salutes the legendary Elvin Jones in a powerful post-bop tribute to the late drummer. Finally, "The Ariztocrat" is a playful salute to Fedchock's former boss, the late Woody Herman; this mid-tempo swinger would have pleased the bandleader. It includes delightful solos by bassist Lynn Seaton, baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan and the composer.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden