segunda-feira, 25 de novembro de 2019

Big Band of Brothers - A Jazz Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band (2019)

                                                           Big Band of Brothers
The best music is timeless and malleable, lending itself to interpretation. Such is the music of The Allman Brothers Band.  As you know, this is the 50th anniversary of the release of their first studio album.  This year has seen multiple Allman Brothers-related projects, many of which were covered on these pages. This may be the most unique of them all, hearing a 15-piece big band replicate and interpret classic Allman Brother material, often with various horns playing those indelibly memorable guitar lines on  Big Band of Brothers:  A Jazz Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band.

It’s somewhat surprising that more projects like these don’t come along. Executive producer John Harvey mentions in the opening liner notes that he was inspired by Bob Curnow’s 1991 L.A. Big Band recording, The Music of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, known songs performed in a big band context. He states that he’s always wanted to do a similar project of early original Allman Brothers material but was unable to do so until connecting with producer Mark Lanter, who he knew as a drummer in the University of Alabama Jazz Ensemble from the ‘70s. Lanter plays the drums here throughout the album. Further connections were made, notably co-producer Charles Driebe, who brought Ruthie Foster to the project.

The packaging is wonderful in that the back cover details the soloists for each piece. Six of them are graced with high profile guests as Marc Broussard handles the vocals on “Statesboro Blues,” and in searing style on “Whipping Post.” Foster has never sounded better than she does on “It’s Not My Cross to Bear” and “Don’t Keep Me Wondering.” Those alone are worth a listen to this entire recording. Lauded trombonist and multiple Downbeat winner for that instrument, Wycliffe Gordon, delivers an impeccable soprano trombone solo on “Don’t Want You No More” and wrote the very unusual arrangement for “Statesboro Blues.” Former ABB guitarist Jack Pearson has the riveting slide part in “Stand Back.”

As good as all those performances are, however, none should be surprising. The surprises come in the soloists from the big band, 15 chairs and 22 different players. In other words, some are playing on certain selections while others are aboard throughout. The instrumental tracks are equally as compelling as the vocal ones whether it’s “Hot “Lanta” (four soloists), “Dreams” (solo from trombonist Chad Fisher),  “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (five soloists), and the closing epic 12 minute version of “Les Bres In A Minor” with its improvisational pre-amble and the piece itself that features four soloists. Among the many stunning solos are Kelly O’Neal’s alto on ”Don’t Want You No More” and the Nathan McLeod and Jimmy Bowland dueling sax solos heard in separate channels on “Don’t Keep Me Wondering.” At least nine band members solo at least once.

While many would not associate the Allman Brothers with jazz despite their improvisational gifts, there are some interesting recollections from ABB band members about the group’s leanings toward jazz. Gregg Allman early on told journalist Bob Beatty, “Jaimoe turned all of us on to so much neat stuff. He gave us a proper education about jazz and got us into Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Kind of Blue was always on the turntable – Duane really got his head around that album – and he also seriously dug Coltrane’s My Favorite Things. Warren Haynes related this in 2013, “It’s interesting when you think about Duane’s roots in blues and R&B. As he was growing as a musician, jazz musicians were becoming more and more important to him. He talked a lot about how important Coltrane was in influencing him. It’s almost a cliché to say that you’ve been influenced by John Coltrane these days because it’ so obvious that he’s an icon. But for somebody in the early ‘70s to actually take that influence into a rock or pop sensibility was quite a stretch. Perhaps he helped to make Coltrane a universal influence in ways he didn’t even realize, the same way that people like Duane and Clapton contributed to the rediscovery of Robert Johnson.”

Listening to these jazz interpretations, Duane would likely be proud. It’s almost like hearing the band all over again, as the big band recreates that initial excitement and deep feeling of soul that this writer recalls hearing the first ABB studio album in a dorm room 50 years ago.


Tom Wolfe - Electric Guitar (tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10)
Matt Casey - Electric Slide Guitar (tracks 1, 9)
Mark Lanter - Drum (all tracks)
Abe Becker - Acoustic & Electric Bass (tracks 3, 5, 7)
Chris Kozak - Acoustic & Electric Bass (tracks 1, 4, 6, 9)
David Ray - Acoustic & Electric Bass (tracks 2, 8, 10)
Andy Nevala - Piano, Hammond B-3, Rhodes (all tracks)
Rob Alley - Trumpet, Flugelhorn (tracks 3, 5, 8, 10)
Mart Avant - Trumpet, Flugelhorn (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Barney Floyd - Trumpet, Flugelhorn (all tracks)
Chris Gordon - Trumpet, Flugelhorn (all tracks)
Bill Huber - Trombone (tracks 2, 8, 10)
Billy Bargetzi - Trombone (all tracks)
Chad Fisher - Trombone (tracks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9)
Jimmy Bowland - Saxophone Alto (tracks 1, 4, 6, 9)
Steve Collins - Baritone Saxophone (all tracks)
Dick Aven - Saxophone Tenor & Soprano (all tracks)
Mace Hibbard - Alto Saxophone (tracks 3, 5, 7)
Nathan McLeod - Tenor Saxophone (all tracks)
Kelley O’Neal - Alto Saxophone (tracks 2, 8, 10)
Brandon Slocumb - Bass Trombone (all tracks)
Dave Crenshaw - Congas, Percussion (tracks 2, 4, 8, 10)

Guest Artists:

Marc Broussard - Vocals (tracks 1, 5)
Ruthie Foster - Vocals (tracks 3, 9)
Jack Pearson - Electric Slide Guitar (track 6)
Wycliffe Gordon - Soprano Trombone (track 2)


01. Statesboro Blues (feat. Marc Broussard) 05:13   
02. Don’t Want You No More 03:48   
03. It’s Not My Cross to Bear (feat. Ruthie Foster) 07:51   
04. Hot ‘Lanta 05:15   
05. Whipping Post (feat. Marc Broussard) 05:11   
06. Stand Back 05:35   
07. Dreams 06:38   
08. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed 07:11   
09. Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’ (feat. Ruthie Foster) 04:07
10. Les Brers In A Minor 12:03

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