Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra / Dan Gailey

What Did You Dream?

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While Origin Records focuses on the Northwest, the offshoot label OA2 has a habit of finding exceptional jazz hidden away in the Midwest. A case in point is Dan Gailey, a jazz director from the University of Kansas who has a following as a composer for large ensembles. Here, he gets a chance to show off the reason behind his following. The album opens with "Audacity," mixing the grandiose fanfares of 1970s big bands with bubbling lead horns coursing their way through the proceedings. With "Point No Point," the tempo and tone drop dramatically, keeping a touch of the grandiose in the proceedings but reducing the sound as if on a dimmer switch. There's a nod to straightforward smooth jazz in "Early Light," and with "In a Big Way" a groove develops that brings the pacing back bit by bit while giving the focus to the saxes. After a reflective piece in the title track, the album finishes with a move away from big-band sounds in the final track, with careful explorations from the saxes again, probing the scales and finding all sorts of flourishes, all sorts of interesting motives. This is one of those albums that can't quite decide what genre it falls into -- whether it's modern small-group jazz with a focus on melody, or a tribute to large-ensemble jazz with its large-scale melodies and parallel lines. Either way, the writing and performances are outstanding, and put together a nice glimpse of both worlds for the listener.

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