Down Beat - 9/97, pp.41-423.5 stars (out of 5)
- "Yes, indeed, this is one brassy album....J.J. Johnson has today's top session players in his pocket, his hip pocket....a sweet mood music..."
JazzTimes - 10/97, pp.102-103
"...Johnson continues to explore the aquatic majesty of large ensembles and orchestral compositions....a stunning array of compositions that range from starkly beautiful ballads, to fiesty Latin-tinged grooves, to brisk bebop excursions..."
Vibe - 9/97, p.239
"...J.J. Johnson has reached a higher plateau with his latest masterwork, THE BRASS ORCHESTRA. A breathtaking collection of 14 tunes scored for the big band..."
Option - 11-12/97, pp.99-100
"...an intriguing, multi-hued and musically excellent 71 minutes of music....avoids sounding like traditional big band, self-conscious avant-garde or third stream..."
Personnel: J.J. Johnson, Steve Turre, Robin Eubanks, Jim Pugh, Dave Taylor, Douglas Purviance, Joe Alessi (trombone); Dan Faulk (soprano & tenor saxophones); Jon Faddis, Eddie Henderson, Earl Gardner, Lew Soloff, Byron Stripling, Joe Wilder, Danny Cahn, Joe Shepley (trumpet); John Clark, Bob Carlisle, Chris Comer, Marshall Sealy (French horn); Bruce Bonvissuto, Alan Raph (euphonium); Howard Johnson, Andy Rodgers (tuba); Francesca Corsi (harp); Renee Rosnes (piano); Rufus Reid (bass); Victor Lewis (drums); Freddie Santiago, Milton Cardona, Kevin Johnson (percussion).
Producers: J.J. Johnson, Don Sickler, Richard Seidel.
THE BRASS ORCHESTRA was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance. "Canonn For Bela" was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition. "Wild Is The Wind" was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement.
Personnel: J.J. Johnson (trombone); Francesca Corsi (harp); Dan Faulk (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Eddie Henderson, Joe Wilder, Jon Faddis, Lew Soloff, Joe Shepley, Danny Cahn, Earl Gardner, Byron Stripling (trumpet); Marshall Sealy, John Clark , Chris Komer, Bob Carlisle (French horn); Jim Pugh , Robin Eubanks, Steve Turre, Joseph Alessi , Douglas Purviance (trombone); Bruce Bonvissuto, Alan Raph (euphonium); Andy Rodgers, Howard Johnson (tuba); Renee Rosnes (piano); Victor Lewis (drums); Freddie Santiago, Kevin Johnson, Milton Cardona (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Jim Anderson .
Liner Note Author: Stanley Crouch.
Recording information: Clinton Recording Studio, New York, NY (09/24/1996-09/27/1996).
Photographer: Jimmy Katz.
J.J. Johnson finds himself at the helm of a dream band here -- a full brass orchestra with French horns, euphoniums, tubas, and a harp -- and gets to exploit its possibilities wherever they might lead. The results are beyond category, where the veteran trombonist's writing has a feathery richness, urbanity, and a depth charge in the bass reminiscent of, but not really indebted to, Gil Evans. There is plenty of straight-ahead jazz grooving but also several episodes of formal, almost classical writing, as in the suitably joyous "If I Hit the Lottery," and rigorous combinations of both, like the angular tribute to B‚la Bart¢k, "Canonn for Bela." The generous Johnson doesn't even appear on a piece he commissioned from Robin Eubanks called "Cross Currents" -- Eubanks performs the sputtering trombone solo -- nor on Slide Hampton's blazing "Comfort Zone." He also revisits some of his early third stream experiments from the '50s and '60s; "Ballad for Joe" derives from his "Poem for Brass" and "Horn of Plenty" and "Ballade" from the Perceptions album (the latter two sound a bit staid under the current light). Johnson's own trombone solos are always imaginative, authoritative, and irresistibly swinging; at 72, he plays as well here as he ever did. This is a must-buy for all J.J. fans and those who thought that the third stream could never rise again. ~ Richard S. Ginell