WBGO Radar

Band of Bones: "Stomp!"

band of bones stomp

In jazz music, when a celebration happens, and its spark is competence and compassion, it makes no difference where in history it lands to have a good time.

The New York collective of Dave Chamberlain's Band of Bones has proven this twice already. Now, with their third album Stomp, this fifteen -piece aggregate has confirmed they can swing hard through any decade.

Often it's been said this music can sound like a museum piece - old. Problem solved right away, as the Band of Bones takes us back to the beginning, with Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp."

Lynn Welshman's arrangement sets today's stage for trombonists Matt McDonald, Chris Rinaman, Sara Jacovino and Charlie Gordon to swing a forward look back.

Hendrik Meurkens is one of today's masters of harmonica. His "Sambatropolis," arranged by Nate Mayland, has the band dancing in Brazil, with Meurkens' harmonica, Gordon's trombone and percussionist Chembo Corniel leading the ensemble's sway.

J.J. Johnson arranged the Richard Rodgers tune "The Sweetest Sounds" for Sarah Vaughan for her Sassy Swings Again album. On this session, Kenny Ascher's piano opening sets things up for Kat Gang to swing us yet again with her remarkable vocal instrument. Re-orchestrated here by Mark Miller, it displays the band's infectious swing quotient, highlighted by the leader and Nate Mayland on trombones.

With Dave Chamberlain on flute, alongside bassist Jerry DeVore , drummer Mike Campenni and percussionist Corniel, Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing" makes this flora a fiesta, with Todd Anderson's latin arrangement laying the foundation for trombonists Sara Jacovino and Matt McDonald to move through this hauntingly gorgeous chart.

Testament of Chamberlain's Band of Bones' respect for the genius of J.J. Johnson is played out annually in New York City, as well as on their two previous recordings. Here, Johnson's "Flat Black" shows the band's all out collective groove. John Yao's modern arrangement gives an incendiary spark for trombonists Jacovino and Mayland in tandem with Ascher's fast piano lines.

"Band of Bones Blues," composed & arranged by Chamberlain, features the leader on trombone and vocal.

The lyric says it all - " don't look for no trumpet or sax, the Band of Bones will play it to the max!"

Chris Rinaman's arrangement of A.C Jobim's "Chega de Saudade" shows off Kat Gang's comfortable vocal styling in any language. Dale Turk's turn on bass trombone is pure delight on what many consider to be the first samba hit.

Written by Victor Young for a 1949 film, "Delilah" is probably most familiar to jazzers from Clifford Brown & Max Roach. Band of Bones takes James Zeller's arrangement, with it's Middle Eastern flare, moving through 4/4 and accelerating to a latin burner, quoting Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" en route to a pure demonstration of what this band is capable of. Mayland on tenor trombone and Max Siegel's bass trombone provide additional color to this musical palette with so many dimensions.

Vocalist Katt Gang puts scat wings on Luis Jordan's demanding question "Is You Is, or Is You Ain't My Baby?". Chris Rinaman's arrangement moves this one from stripper's prance to swinger's dance, with fluid solos by bonemen Charlie Gordon, Nate Mayland and Mark Patterson.

"Pavanne & Stomp" was composed by Lynn Welshman for his Tentet as a bright funk filled vehicle for saxist Gerry Niewood and Jim Pugh, one of Woody Herman's outstanding trombonists. Here the ensemble nods to the original with Charlie Gordon getting the call to spark the moment.

Dave Chamberlain's Band of Bones concludes their stomp with a gorgeous display on "Amazing Grace". William Hines' brass band arrangement, re-orchestrated by Chris Rinaman is a moment of solitude to allow us all to take in all  the sweetest sounds, with Mayland, Patterson & Turk on trombone.

With Stomp,  Band of Bones' stamp is firmly placed on an ensemble of remarkable players and what exciting things can happen when musical minds like these come together. It warrants many listens and makes indelible the desire to see this music in performance.


 - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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