Dick Oatts/Mats Holmquist New York Jazz Orchestra, 'A Tribute To Herbie +1,' Summit [REVIEW]
The 2016 big band renaissance marches on with the Dick Oatts/Mats Holmquist New York Jazz Orchestra's action-packed Hancock nod, A Tribute To Herbie+1 (Summit Records) in which the legendary piano player's acclaimed '60s and '70s catalog is combed through to pick eight gems. It proves to be a whole new way to dig Herbie Hancock and I, for one, love it.
Herbie's more subtle. These arrangements are so in-your-face, you're either going to love it or have to leave the room. I remember hearing Stan Kenton's blow-out band for the first time and the feeling of being a bit overwhelmed -- and not in a good way. I felt Kenton's blasts were akin to someone yelling in my face. Casual jazz fans might feel the same way about Oatts and his powerful alto and soprano saxes. After all, he used to knock 'em dead every Monday night at the Vanguard with the Mel Lewis Orchestra (now called The Vanguard Orchestra) and, yeah, he's still knockin' 'em dead.
Arranger/composer Holmquist, from Dave Liebman's big band, has a knack for hot charts and ear-popping arrangements. He has some of the finest saxophones, trumpets, fluegelhorns, trombones, guitar, piano, bass and drums of New York City and his home Stockholm, Sweden to work with.
It all comes to fruition on such hearty Hancock sandwiches as "Cantaloupe Island," "Chameleon," "Dolphin Dance," "Eye Of The Hurricane," "Maiden Voyage," "Jessica," "Toys" and, of course, "Watermelon Man." The one original, "Stevie R," could even be a radio hit, if but for its 6:17 length.