Dan McMillion Jazz Orchestra: Up Your Brass (2002)
Maybe it’s the combination of baritone saxophone with piercing brass. Or maybe it’s the array of fine soloists who each have something genuine to offer. Most likely, it’s the capable, high-soaring trumpet of leader Dan McMillion that makes this big band album so appealing. Their sound is superb, and the arrangements come from noted experts in the field. Bold and brassy, McMillion is “Maynard with a good, full tone quality.” His sky-writhing trumpet captures the spotlight. McMillion, who grew up in Detroit and inherited the grasp of big band jazz from his father, toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra in the early 1960s. Bill Chase was leading the trumpet section at that time. Is it any wonder that high notes and popular songs wind up together on McMillion’s albums? He also weaves a few mellow melodies on flugelhorn, placing the instrument’s darker sound atop treasured anthems. Based in the Tampa, Florida area, this band is capable of winning national awards year after year. Besides a virile and exciting trumpeter/leader, the ensemble boasts superb balance, exquisite harmonic density, and solo features from many. Standout features include Valerie Gillespie’s lovely flute solo on “Maria,” Tom Dietz’s fluid soprano solo on “Dolphin Dance,” Richard Drexler’s gripping piano intro to “Blues for Red,” Gerald Myles’ inspirational drum bridge on “Gonna Fly Now,” and the battling tenors of Dietz and Mike McArthur on “The Chicken.” Audio samples are available at McMillion’s web site .
Track Listing: You Got It; Spirit of St. Frederick; Norwegian Wood; Maria; Change Up; Dolphin Dance; Saturnian Sleigh Ride; People; Last Dive; Blues for Red; The Chicken; Hot House; Gonna Fly Now.
Personnel: Dan McMillion- leader, trumpet, flugelhorn, valve trombone; Chad Shoopman, John Robinson, Andy Reese, Matt White- trumpet, flugelhorn; Keith Oshiro, Chris Price, Marius Dicpetris, Bob Medlin- trombone; Valerie Gillespie- alto saxophone, flute; Mike Gibilisco- alto saxophone; Mike McArthur- tenor saxophone; Tom Dietz- alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone; Butch Evans- baritone saxophone; Richard Drexler- piano; Chris Queenan- bass; Gerald Myles- drums; Wayne Daughtry- trumpet & flugelhorn on