Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Through the richly textured arrangements of longtime collaborator Nick Lane and a stellar new ensemble of some of LA's finest, veteran guitarist and composer Tom Rizzo creates a swinging and wide-ranging new recording of interesting standards and provocative originals. The topflight band, including Joe La Barbera, Bob Sheppard & Bob Summers, digs deep on the swinging original opener B-Like, paints a lush landscape on the gorgeous J.J. Johnson classic Lament, and roasts on the dynamic arrangement of Sonny Rollins' Oleo. By supplementing the Birth of the Cool instrumentation on Imaginary Numbers with his sleek guitar work, Rizzo adds a twist to that classic ensemble sound and contributes a worthy modern gem to Los Angeles' recorded jazz heritage. "Rizzo adds a twist to that classic ensemble sound and contributes a worthy modern gem to Los Angeles' recorded jazz heritage." - All Music Guide
JazzTimes (p.70) - "His 'B-Like' carries an in-your-face big-band flair, while his title track is an introspective, lyrical duet with soprano saxophonist Bob Sheppard."
Personnel: Tom Rizzo (guitar); Bob Sheppard (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Bob Summers (trumpet); John Dickson (French horn); Nick Lane (trombone); Kenneth Kugler (tuba); Rich Eames (piano); Joe Lebarbera (drums).
Audio Mixer: Terry Sampson.
Liner Note Author: Rick Simpson.
Recording information: Conway Studios, Hollywood, CA (09/04/2009).
Photographer: Ray Bengston.
Tom Rizzo's long-delayed debut recording as a leader is an impressive outing. Active since the early '70s as a professional guitarist, including stints with the Tonight Show Orchestra (where he also contributed as a composer/arranger), Maynard Ferguson, and Blood, Sweat & Tears, Rizzo started work on his dream project some six years prior to the record date. He recruited eight superb musicians, including two well-known names -- saxophonist Bob Sheppard and Bill Evans' final drummer, Joe La Barbera, plus trumpeter Bob Summers, trombonist Nick Lane (who contributed most of the arrangements), tuba player Ken Kugler, French horn player John Dickson, pianist Rich Eames, and bassist Tom Warrington. Rizzo shines as a composer, especially in his engaging duet on acoustic guitar with Sheppard (heard on soprano sax), with the composer overdubbing his brief solo on electric guitar. His "Sco-Mi" is a snappy hard bop vehicle with superb interplay. There are also several strong charts of jazz standards. The sizzling interpretation of Sonny Rollins' "Oleo" does not follow a predictable path. Opening with a punchy vamp, it lightly touches on the theme with the backing of unusual voicings, then showcases Sheppard's original tenor and the leader's intricate bop guitar. Trombonist J.J. Johnson's gorgeous "Lament," though it takes on an even more bittersweet air with Lane's sensitive scoring, showcases lush solos by Sheppard, Summers, Eames, and Rizzo in turn. The slow, luxurious setting of Benny Golson's "Along Came Betty" and the hip take of Nat Adderley's blues "One for Daddy-O," the latter arranged by Kugler, also merit praise. This all-around excellent record date led by Tom Rizzo merits a prompt follow-up session. ~ Ken Dryden
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