National Jazz Ensemble includes: Bill Evans, Lee Konitz, Tom Harrell, Jimmy Knepper.
Personnel: Steve Brown (guitar); Dennis Anderson (clarinet, saxophone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Gregory Herbert (saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Lee Konitz, Arnie Lawrence, Lawrence Feldman (saxophone, alto saxophone); Sal Nistico, Joe Romano (saxophone, tenor saxophone); Kenny Berger (saxophone, trumpet); Tom Harrell (trumpet, flugelhorn); Danny Hayes, Mike Lawrence , Tom Maxwell (trumpet); John Clark (French horn); Joe Randazzo , Rod Levitt, Jimmy Knepper, Gerry Chamberlain (trombone); Benny Aronov, Bill Evans (piano).
Liner Note Authors: Dan Morgenstern; Martin Williams .
Recording information: Downtown Sound, New York, NY (04/??/1975-05/05/1976); Warp Studio, New York, NY (04/??/1975-05/05/1976).
Arrangers: Chuck Israels; Hall Overton; Lawrence Feldman.
This production signifies a reissue of the original big band sessions recorded in 1975 and 1976. On this release listeners find bassist Chuck Israels directing the band through a series of 16 compositions by such luminaries as Horace Silver, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and others, whereas Israels contributes three pieces. These two separately recorded sessions feature the talents of trombonist Jimmy Knepper, saxophonist Lee Konitz, and trumpeter Tom Harrell, along with a venerable cast and some lesser-known artists. In fact, pianist Bill Evans dropped into the studio to partake in the band's rendition of his lovely composition titled "Very Early." Otherwise, the material presented here is culled from three previously issued LPs, as this compilation includes the original liner notes along with the newly written producer's notes. The first-rate music provides the winning formula, even though successful big bands are akin to dinosaurs due to the cost-prohibitive nature of maintaining an entourage, whether in the studio or on the road. Overall, the ensemble touches upon a broad spectrum of the jazz vernacular, as they meld traditional swing with modern/progressive elements and a few attractive diversions. Simply put, the music is golden. ~ Glenn Astarita
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