Doug Hamilton Jazz Band: Bill Linney (alto); Tedd Baker (tenor, tenor saxophone); Scott Silbert (baritone); Jim Roberts (guitar); Craig Fraedrich, Liesl Whitaker (trumpet); Matt Niess (trombone); Tony Nalker (piano); Paul "Turk" Henry (bass instrument); Dave McDonald, Steve Fidyk (drums).
Personnel: SSG Bill E. Linney (alto).
Audio Mixer: Bob Dawson.
Liner Note Author: Doug Hamilton.
Recording information: Bias Recording, Springfield, VA (06/2007-09/2007).
Arrangers: Doug Hamilton; Rick Wilkins; Mark Taylor ; Rick Wilkins.
Riding the wave of resurgence of the large ensemble in jazz, trombonist/arranger Doug Hamilton here puts together charts for a collection of musicians culled from the Armed Forces bands (Army Blues, Airmen of Note, Navy Commodores). The music itself is more of a throwback compared to much of what's being created for contemporary big bands, owing a fair bit to Stan Kenton's sound and a simpler, cleaner approach than many. The compositions hail in roughly equal measure from the classic songbook, the post-bop players (Bill Evans, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins), and Hamilton himself. In the arrangements, though, something starts to fall flat. There's a touch of some of the Gil Evans aesthetic in the playing from time to time in tight parallel lines and ambient horn backings, but by and large the music seems somewhat stale. The performers are all highly capable, and indeed show off some outstanding chops when left to their solos. However, when the players are combined together as a ten-piece band, the sound is less energetic, almost as though restrained by something beyond their control. Nothing ever quite breaks out from the background; nothing quite shakes up the melodies. Given the excellent musicians, though, the album makes for a nice piece of ambient background music. ~ Adam Greenberg