Mike Longo and the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble: Aftermath
As last year’s debut album by pianist Mike Long’s NYSAJE was labeled Explosion, it’s entirely appropriate that its second enterprise should be dubbed Aftermath. One should not be lulled, however, into believing that the aftermath is somehow less dynamic than the explosion itself. This aftermath packs a devastating wallop of its own, orchestrated by Longo and ignited by twenty–two of the New York City area’s most accomplished sidemen. Although it’s not stated in so many words, we presume that all of the charts and all but three of the compositions (Coltrane’s “Naima,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Wee,” Rodgers and Hart’s “It Never Entered My Mind”) are by Longo. If so, Diz’s longtime music director has done himself proud, framing bold yet accessible songs and arrangements that may be challenging to play but are a pleasure to hear. The reed section in particular (shades of SuperSax!) warrants a medal for its soli above and beyond the call on the fleet–footed “Wee,” wherein Longo remodels a typically meaty Sonny Stitt solo for them to chew on. As a reward, the ensemble is given Longo’s sumptuous arrangement of “It Never Entered My Mind” in lieu of the usual flag–waving finale. Aftermath opens with Longo’s Gillespie–like swinger, “Urban Jungle,” which precedes his radiant bossa–based treatment of “Naima.” Longo hits the nail squarely on the head with “Moody’s Groove,” as one can almost envision the legendary saxophonist leaping eagerly into its bluesy changes. “Love Dreams,” whose walking bass intro reminds one of “A Night in Tunisia,” prances smartly along behind wicked solos by alto Bob Magnuson and guitarist Adam Rafferty; “Hooters,” which includes some of the most charming ensemble passages on the album, slows the tempo slightly for trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and soprano Patience Higgins; “Day Spring,” a Latin–style romp in 5 /4, introduces another impressive trumpeter, Nabate Isles, who solos again on the melodic burner, “Yomamo” — on the former with trombonist Wayne Andre and bassist Lyn Christy, the latter with alto Lee Greene and trombonist Sam Burtis. Other soloists of note include Longo, trumpeter Virgil Jones and tenor Frank Perowsky (“Urban Jungle”); Longo, Magnuson and flautist Frank Basile (“Naima”); Greene, Rafferty and trombonist Bob Suttman (“Moody’s Groove”); Perowsky, trumpeters Burt Collins and Joe Shepley (“Wee”), Collins (flugel) and Andre (“It Never Entered My Mind”). Drummer Darryl Pellegrini anchors the ensemble’s superb rhythm section. Nola Studio, where the recording was made, should be booked often, as the sound is letter–perfect. With two such “explosive” albums on the street, what to call the next one? How about “Bombs Away”?
Contact:Consolidated Artists Productions, 290 Riverside Drive, Suite 11–D, New York, NY 10025. Web site, www.jazzbeat.com
Track Listing: Urban Jungle; Naima; Moody
Personnel: Mike Longo, leader, piano; Virgil Jones, Burt Collins, Joe Magnarelli, Joe Shepley, Nabate Isles, Gary Guzio, Darryl Shaw, trumpet; Bob Magnuson, Lee Greene, Frank Perowsky, Patience Higgins, Frank Basile, Matt Snyder, reeds; Wayne Andre, Sam Burtis, Bob Suttman, Lynn Welshman, Eric Goetz, trombone; Adam Rafferty, guitar; Lyn Christie, bass; Darryl Pellegrini, drums.