Maiden Voyage Suite
The Westchester Jazz Orchestra is a group of 16 musicians with years of big-band experience (e.g., Gillespie, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Hampton, etc.) who are, according to their press release, “pillars of the New York jazz community.” They’ve interpreted pianist Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage, the 1964 album featuring his sextet that he recorded at age 24 when he was with Miles Davis. (Nine years later he shifted directions and recorded his super-selling Head Hunters, a landmark electric funk album.) Using mostly the arrangements of Mike Holober—the group’s artistic director/conductor and 17th member—the band works its brassy way through Hancock’s five tunes replicating the original LP’s sequencing and even adding a few nice touches, such as the elegiac “Prologue,” which starts things off and is bookended by the closing “Epilogue,” both composed by Holober. Trumpeter Marvin Stamm (ex-Stan Kenton, -Woody Herman) shares the solo honors on the lilting title track with soprano saxist David Brandom. Jim Rotondi (ex-Ray Charles) nicely floats through “Dolphin Dance” on his flugelhorn, as does pianist Ted Rosenthal, who delights one throughout with his tasty accompaniments and solos; both of them rip it up (in company with tenorman Jason Rigby) on the frenetic “Survival of the Fittest.” There’s a lot of stunning playing here that will gladden the heart of a big-band fan.