Music composed by Bob Belden.
Gary Smulyan And Brass includes: Gary Smulyan (baritone saxophone); Bob Belden (arranger, conductor); Bill Charlap (piano); Christian McBride (bass); Kenny Washington (drums).
Personnel: Gary Smulyan (baritone saxophone); Greg Gisbert, Scott Wendholt, Earl Gardner (trumpet); John Mosca (trombone); Douglas Purviance (bass trombone); Bill Charlap (piano); Kenny Washington, Joe Farnsworth (drums).
Liner Note Author: Ted Panken.
Recording information: Systems Two Recording Studio, Brooklyn, NY (12/09/1999).
Arranger: Bob Belden.
Gary Smulyan and Bob Belden continue their fruitful musical relationship on this somewhat unusual outing. Beginning with an introductory arrangement of Oliver Nelson's up-tempo "Interlude," the disc is then given over to a seven-part "Blue Suite" composed and arranged by Belden. Smulyan leads the proceedings on baritone sax, joined by Bill Charlap on piano, Christian McBride on bass, and Kenny Washington on drums, along with four trumpets, three trombones, two French horns, and a tuba. Most of these brass players are Smulyan's fellow members in the historic Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. An extended meditation on the blues in all its variety, the suite features Smulyan's virtuosic, expressive bari playing and fine solos from trumpeters Scott Wendholt and Greg Gisbert, French horn player John Clark, tubist Bob Stewart, and trombonist John Mosca. To hear the blues genesis of some of these compositions -- especially "Blues in My Neighborhood," "Charleston Blue," and "Blues Gentility" -- requires a careful ear. "Blue Speed" and "Blue Stomp," in contrast, are more straightforward blowing vehicles. Throughout, Blue Suite satisfyingly combines exploratory compositions, carefully developed arrangements, and loose-limbed improvisation, all within the inexhaustible framework of the blues. ~ David R. Adler