The challenges of a big band – both creative and organizational – have always been particularly daunting, especially as the era of the dance hall, which sustained such an ensemble has been dead for years. With philharmonic and symphonic orchestras are also teetering on the proverbial edge as well does not auger well for the future. And yet, there are places and organizations – particularly in Europe – where the big band seems to be enjoying resurgence; or at least have held their own for decades, thanks to good management and exceedingly brilliant talent as well.
In this time of a global pandemic it therefore seems a doubly courageous – even foolhardy – move on the part of Henry Godfrey to not only put together a large ensemble such as this, but also attempt to release a long-play recording. Moreover, Mr Godfrey has created several original works and arranged them for this big band. And that is extremely creditable. Of course, the best recommendation comes from the music and the performance of it. Love Finds Everyone is a title that suggests hope and this music not only sounds enormously hopeful, but it is also rather well performed too.
Directing proceedings from behind the drum set [on all but one of these seven tracks], Mr Godfrey has done yeoman’s work on the charts. The musicians, in turn, have deeply interiorised his arrangements and perform them idiomatically. Mr Godfrey, it must be said, does not make it easy for the musicians, yet the ensembles are up for the challenge and, in the end, give of themselves with every ounce of their individual [and collective] talents. The works are performed both in the studio and live as well. Light and dark shadows abound in the music that makes dramatic twists and turns. All of this demands precision and the kind of reflexes that not only demand excellence in sight-reading, but also in interpretation.
There is hardly a wrong step throughout this disc. “Shenandoah” is particularly well played and evokes the music’s wistful emotions to perfection. Soli are powerful and being short, never distract from the overall music. Clearly Mr Godfrey is onto something and one can only expect his voice to mature and produce more excellent work such as this in very short order. The live tracks suggest some challenges in balance and warmth, but overall production values are fairly good.
Track list – 1: She Moves Just Like the River; 2: Shenandoah; 3: Why Not You; 4: Bad Kids to the Back; 5: She Moves Just Like the River [Live]; 6: Witch’s Eye [Live]; 7: Out of the Way [Live]
Personnel – Tracks 1-3 – Alex Ramirez: alto saxophone and flute; Blayke Phillips: alto saxophone; Kyle Zimmerman: tenor saxophone and clarinet; Max Rourke: tenor saxophone and clarinet; Luis Garcia: baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Khalil Long: trumpet; Kyrell Long: trumpet; Scott Bell: trumpet; Will Trueblood IV: trumpet and flugelhorn; Kaya Meller: trumpet and flugelhorn; Alan Hsiao: trombone; Hoyt Anthony Parquet: trombone; Jasmine Sloane: trombone; Dorsey Minns: bass trombone; JP Donelan: guitar; Derek Dupuis: piano; Noah Harrington: bass; Henry Godfrey: drums. Track 4 – Zachary Hicks: flute; Sam Spear: alto saxophone; Ian Buss: tenor saxophone; Kyle Zimmerman: tenor saxophone; Nicholas Suchecki: baritone saxophone; Will Trueblood IV: trumpet; Eliza Block: trumpet; Nick Rosario: trombone; Haoran Li: trombone; Ethan Santos: bass trombone; Alejandro Espinosa: guitar; Derek Dupuis: piano; Aaron Hanson: bass; Henry Godfrey: drums. Tracks 5-7 – Aaron Dutton: alto saxophone and flute; Shun Kumagai: alto saxophone; Daniel Bitran: tenor saxophone and clarinet; Kevin Ponce Sanchez: tenor saxophone and clarinet; Nicholas Suchecki: baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Miles Keingstein: trumpet; Matt Kelly: trumpet; Daniel Hirsch: trumpet and flugelhorn; Eliza Block: trumpet and flugelhorn; Haoran Li: trombone; Sam Margolis: trombone; Dorsey Minns: bass trombone; Andres Orco: guitar; Daniel Kapit: piano; Seajun Kwon:
Released – 2020
Label – Independent
Runtime – 52:21