Rick Holland Evan Dobbins Little Big Band | Trilby

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by Rick Holland Evan Dobbins Little Big Band

This modern Little big Band album features exciting new arrangements written for the 10 piece ensemble. The band features excellent soloists, arrangers and it's mission is to record new works for this sized ensemble. Radio host Lazaro Vega states--Rick Holland’s flugelhorn improvisations flow with a seasoned musician’s imagination and a hard working trumpeter’s ability to play whatever comes to mind. His piquant touches to the top of the staff (or above) from wherever he happens to be in the improvised melodic line are a great example of where daily practice can take you. His sound is attractive, in fact the sonority he gets from the flugelhorn is an essential component of the group’s impact, and his love of Chet Baker’s melodic invention is completely internalized. Holland’s ability to improvise melodically from his imagination, as opposed to fitting memorized patterns of notes into the chord, is worth careful listening. That’s the way it’s done, folks .
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Stablemates
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5:17 $0.99
2. Slidin
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7:24 $0.99
3. Eternal Triangle
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5:46 $0.99
4. Second Waltz
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6:21 $0.99
5. The Cottage
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5:28 $0.99
6. Trilby
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12:27 $0.99
7. Fused
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7:19 $0.99
8. My Darling Darlene
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6:52 $0.99
9. While We're Young
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6:14 $0.99
10. Tricotism
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5:48 $0.99
11. Rich's Call
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5:50 $0.99
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes

What began as a swing dance band in 2005 has evolved into a jazz ensemble capable of nailing the demands of a sophisticated musical arranger while maintaining a sense of unselfconscious swing and delightfully free improvisations.

With “Trilby” The Rick Holland -- Evan Dobbins Little Big Band comes to play. The commercial/aesthetic duality of a jazz band’s life is as old as the music itself, yet for listeners looking to hear musicians challenge themselves, and be taken along into music for music’s sake; records like this are the nut.

But they are not possible without the alert, interactive, conversational, groove driving enthusiasm and carefully controlled dynamic range of a drummer such as Rich Thompson, the last drummer to swing the Count Basie Orchestra. For all the challenging writing, brilliant soloing, and as-one ensemble playing earned by appearing regularly together, The Little Big Band’s unity of style owes everything to that grown up, play-or-die-trying rhythm.

Brent Wallarab dresses up Benny Golson’s jazz standard “Stablemates” with a tasteful variety of ensemble colors wed to re-harmonization and extension of a few melodic lines. The effect creates a great setting for the flowing improvisation of our principle soloist, Rick Holland, and alto saxophonist Doug Stone (no hiding Thompson, either, given the piece’s underlying tension and release as the vamp comes and goes). Dig the way the two horn soloists are brought back for a “curtain call” near the end of the piece and how the soloists eventually overlap.

Rick Holland’s flugelhorn improvisations throughout the recording flow with a seasoned musician’s imagination and a hard working trumpeter’s ability to play whatever comes to mind. His piquant touches to the top of the staff (or above) from wherever he happens to be in the improvised melodic line are a great example of where daily practice can take you. His sound is attractive, in fact the sonority he gets from the flugelhorn is an essential component of the group’s impact, and his love of Chet Baker’s melodic invention is completely internalized. Holland’s ability to improvise melodically from his imagination, as opposed to fitting memorized patterns of notes into the chord, is worth careful listening. That’s the way it’s done, folks.

Two central personalities in the Rick Holland -- Evan Dobbins Little Big Band are featured on Hendrik Meurkens composition, “Slidin’”: pianist/arranger Bill Dobbins of the Eastman School of Music, and his trombone playing son, Evan. A clear, classically trained and personal sounding jazz pianist, Bill Dobbins is one of jazz education’s major contributors and a keeper of the jazz arranger’s flame. His love of “lyrical melodies, counterpoint, chromatic harmony, syncopated and complex rhythms and compelling development of whatever musical material [is at hand]…” guides this recording.

Bill Dobbins says of Rick Holland, “The broad repertoire his groups encompass and the care with which he deals with musical details are a welcome exception in this age of super specialization and an obsession with quick results at the expense of real quality.”

Notice Dobbins’s piano solo on “Slidin’” begins with the march figure that eventually shows up played by the ensemble in the second part of this arrangement. The licks and instrumental voicing in the melodic line and swing of the march are a high level reflection on Thad Jones’s influence. Evan Dobbins is a chip off the old block and a major addition to the band’s repertoire of involved soloists. It’s refreshing to hear an essentially bop oriented trombone player sound like himself.

One of many great moments on the album occurs in the contrapuntal interplay between piano and flugelhorn on “The Cottage,” a form which brilliantly employs the full range of the ensemble, from the unaccompanied duo to a shouting chorus at the big band end of the spectrum dropping suddenly down to David Baron’s bass solo. Utilizing the full palette of instrumental colors and dynamics, Bill Dobbins fashions a classic bop showpiece out of Meurkens’s original.

Notice, too, the multi-linear interplay between the trio of flugelhorn, piano and soprano saxophone on “While We’re Young,” a true high wire act, and soon a variety of trios or duos breaking out across the recording come into relief. This “singing without independent instrumental accompaniment" in counterpoint improvisation is a key element of the Little Big Band’s appeal. Everywhere you turn in this hour of music, variety of instrumental texture is maximized, and even on the most “blowing” of the compositions the solos don’t stand alone but contribute parts of a larger whole.

Sonny Stitt’s “Eternal Triangle” is the eternal blowing tune, a variation on “I Got Rhythm” that in Kerry Strayer’s arrangement juxtaposes the high, bright colors of the woodwinds against the trombones and uses an ascending shout figure to send off Holland on flugelhorn and Mike Pendowski on tenor saxophone into uncompromising solos, all underscored by Rich Thompson’s musical accompaniment.

Bill Dobbins sounds comfortable as a soloist in "Trilby," Brent Wallarab’s straight eighth note Latin contrafact of “Alone Together.” A beautiful showcase for the rhythm section in just the right tempo the title track is highlighted by the interplay of the pianist, bassist and drummer with the horn soloists. The rhythm section spreads out, filling up the sound space and building steadily behind Holland, soprano saxophonist Doug Stone and eventually climaxing in Dobbins ringing block chords. The mellow ensemble vibe insists “Trilby” maintain its quiet intensity.

Duke Ellington’s ability to disguise the written and spontaneous inspired generations of arrangers, and that tradition is elaborated on beautifully in Bill Dobbin’s colorful version of Hendrik Meurken’s “Second Waltz,” including Doug Stone’s pure clarinet tones and Nick Finzer’s double time moves on trombone. The ensemble colors supporting Holland’s flugelhorn solo create a perfect setting, and see if you’re knocked out by the simultaneous improvising which ends the piece.

If you mashed up parts of Joe Henderson’s “Isotope” and Sonny Rollins “St. Thomas” it might come out sounding like Hall Crook’s “Fused,” which may be one reason why Mike Pendowski’s tenor solo here is so sonic. The written section that follows the tenor saxophone solo paces the ensemble towards it’s most Mingus-like round of spontaneous improvisation among Evan Dobbins trombone, Pendowski’s tenor and the rocking your world drums of Rich Thompson, which must send the audiences in Rochester, New York, who are fortunate to hear this band live on a regular basis into fits of whistling appreciation.

Tadd Dameron, Gigi Gryce and even Quincy Jones arranged for mid-sized jazz bands back in the day, and you could imagine what they would have done with Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism.” Here Kerry Strayer paints with Bob Florence-like instrumental colors, showcasing a virtuoso turn by bassist David Baron, one of Dobbins most swinging piano solos, Rich Thompson’s dancing brushes, and some great unison playing from the Little Big Band. They take it out with “Rich’s Call,” a great closer with plenty of openings for Thompson in the first part, and an impassioned tenor saxophone solo over an insistent band in the second segment, and a saxophone-drum duo / drum solo in a third.

Musicians work a lifetime without the chance to meet the high musical standards possible in a fully realized jazz band. Fortunately for us, the listeners, the musicians in the Rick Holland -- Evan Dobbins Little Big Band haven’t settle for anything less.

Lazaro Vega
Host of “Jazz From Blue Lake”
Blue Lake Public Radio


to write a review

Eric Harabadian-Jazz Insider

This project began in 2008 as more of a straight-ahead commercial swing dance band, with apparent emphasis on getting the audience
on the dance floor. Well, they shifted focus slightly but the result will get you moving and feeling the groove just the same. The arrangements
here are sophisticated and a nice blend of classic jazz standards with challenging ambitious arrangements.

Benny Golson’s “Stablemates” finds principlesoloist Holland and alto saxophonist Stone trading flowing solos over graceful chord
changes. It is a bright and bubbly tune that features a tasty build-up in the coda where the soloistshave a free-for-all in the ending vamp. A
nice lyrical melody follows with a track called “Slidin’,” The combination of drummer Thompson’s light cymbal work sets up a cool vibe for
the father and son solo team of Bill and Evan Dobbins on piano and trombone respectively
“Eternal Triangle” by Sonny Stitt is a brisk up tempo bebop burner that shines the spotlight on exceptional soloing from flugelhornist Holland.
“Second Waltz” is warm and engaging and is significant for Stone’s turn on clarinet. “The Cottage” is nice the way Baron’s bass accentuates
a unison melody with flugelhorn and piano. The drums lay out briefly in the middle as the three soloists interweave their leads in loose but
complementary fashion.

The title cut “Trilby” has a quiet intensity to it that gradually builds by
way of the dense horns and a steady straight-eigth Latin-type groove. Bill Dobbins’ romantic textures add a nice counterpoint to Holland’s
smooth phrasing. “Fused” matches intricate unorthodox melodies with staccato rhythms and punchy drums. In particular, the atonal Monk-ish
piano accompaniment is fresh and vibrant. “My Darling Darlene” is another sweet ballad that has a noir-ish lounge and samba feel. “While We’re
Young” features Stone’s soprano work that seems a bit nostalgic. The melody is catchy and is alternated later in the piece by both Holland
and Stone. Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism” is kind of quiet and leaves room for plenty of space and concentration. It remains minimalist as Baron
states the melody and solos on acoustic bass and Dobbins keeps it light on piano. Finally “Rich’s Call” has a pleasant urgency to it and seems a
call to arms for Rich Thompson’s Buddy Rich/ Louie Bellson-like percussion filigree.

Rick Holland and Evan Dobbins lead a modern big band for the ages. They respect the sound of jazz past and mix it with original and
fresh perspective. This is some truly great work!

Peter Kuller

Wow! What a Surprise!
What a surprise!
This band and musicians were unknown to me, but they are absolutely great!
For listeners to hear musicians challenge themselves, and be taken along for the ride, records like this are a must!
The musicians in the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band are all reaching the high musical standards realized by playing in this excellent Little Big Band!
This music will be featured in my playlists for many months to come.
Thank you again for sending this exceptional cd to me.

Peter Kuller - Jazz Presenter Radio Adelaide 101.5fm & www.radio.adelaide.edu.au
JPL "Jazz from Down Under"

Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Tru

Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band

The Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band, which is based in Rochester, New York, was founded in 2005. Co-led by flugelhornist Holland and trombonist Dobbins, the 11 piece group has the sound of a big band despite having eight instead of the usual 11 or 12 horns. Its musicianship is top-notch, soloists are impeccable, and arrangements are both colorful and swinging.

The 11 songs heard on Trilby consist of four standards, three originals by harmonica great Hendrik Meurkens, and a song apiece by Kerry Strayer, Hal Crook, Brent Wallarab and pianist Bill Dobbins. The father of Evan Dobbins, Bill Dobbins is the best known musician in the band, contributed six of the arrangements, and is a key soloist on five songs.

But enough of the statistics. The Little Big Band swings hard and puts plenty of spirit into each performance. The opener, Benny Golson's “Stablemates,” has fine solos from Holland and the Phil Woods-inspired altoist Doug Stone, with the two battling it out near the tune's finish. Meurkens' “Slidin'” has an arrangement by Bill Dobbins that in its use of restrained tone colors is worthy of Thad Jones. A heated jam on “The Eternal Triangle” gives Holland and tenor-saxophonist Mike Pendowski an opportunity to jam, trade off and interact with each other.

Holland, Doug Stone (this time on clarinet) and trombonist Nick Finzer play lyrically on the melodic “Second Waltz.” David Baron's bass is featured prominently on “The Cottage,” a haunting tune particularly worthy of several listens. “Trilby,” a lengthy exploration of the chord structure of “Alone Together,” has some excellent hard bop flugelhorn from Holland, adventurous soprano from Stone and a memorable spot for Bill Dobbins' piano. Trombonist Dobbins, Pendowski and drummer Rich Thompson are not only well featured on “Fused” but at one point they play as a pianoless bassless trio. Rich Holland is heard at his best on the ballad “My Darling Darlene” and a jazz waltz version of “While We're Young.” David Baron is naturally in the spotlight during bassist Oscar Pettiford's “Tricotism” (along with Nick Finzer and Bill Dobbins) before Trilby closes with its most intense performance on “Rich's Call.”

Throughout Trilby, the Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band plays on the level of most better-known ensembles, performing music that is inventive, full of life and fun. Their CD is highly recommended.

Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76

Jack Bowers--All About Jazz

Trilby--All About Jazz
The Rick Holland—Evan Dobbins Little Big Band
RPO Productions
Five years after a sensational opening act (In Time's Shadow, 2006), trumpeter Rick Holland and trombonist Evan Dobbins have returned for an encore, Trilby, marshaling as before their irrepressible Little Big Band. As was noted of that earlier recording, "the only thing small about [this band] is its numbers." Baritone saxophonist Dean Keller, who shared that chair with Kerry Strayer on Shadow, also returns. The rest of the lineup is brand new, with Evan Dobbins' dad, the well-known educator Bill Dobbins (Eastman School of Music), replacing the splendid pianist John Nyerges.

Besides shining at the keyboard, Bill Dobbins wrote "My Darling Darlene" and arranged half of the album's other ten numbers. Although he doesn't play this time around, Strayer composed "Rich's Call" and arranged Sonny Stitt's "Eternal Triangle" and Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism," while Brent Wallarab wrote "Trilby" and arranged Benny Golson's "Stablemates." Bill Dobbins' engaging charts brighten three originals by Hendrik Meurkens—"Slidin," "Second Waltz," "The Cottage"—as well as Hal Crook's "Fused" and Alec Wilder's lovely standard, "While We're Young" (a reprise from the band's earlier album).

Holland, who plays flugelhorn exclusively, solos strongly on seven numbers, striking the ball with assurance and perception on every turn at bat. Bill Dobbins ("Slidin," "The Cottage," "Trilby," "Darlene," "Tricotism") amplifies the message, as do Evan Dobbins ("Slidin," "Fused"), Doug Stone (alto on "Stablemates," clarinet on "Second Waltz," soprano on "Trilby" and "While We're Young"), tenor Mike Pendowski ("Eternal Triangle," "Fused," "Rich's Call"), trombonist Nick Finzer ("Second Waltz," "Tricotism"), bassist David Baron ("The Cottage," "Tricotism") and blue-chip drummer Rich Thompson ("Eternal Triangle," "Fused," "Rich's Call"). When they're not having their say, the ensemble is front and center, giving each of the charts its single-minded attention. The result is music that flows easily without miscue.

Trilby marks a second triumph by the Holland / Dobbins Little Big Band, which, as was noted after its debut album, "is more big than little, in every sense of the word." Those who appreciate a tight, swinging band, even if slightly undersized, are sure to admire Trilby.

George Fendel Jazz Society of Oregon

Trilby, The Rick Holland-Evan Dobbins Little Big Band
The liner notes inform us that this ensemble started as a swinging dance band in 2005. Since then, they've evolved into a solid, well-arranged outfit with first rate solos played by intriguing, skilled jazz cats. The feeling I derived from the CD was similar to a classic Blue Note session. You know, several well-written originals that are melodically strong, and a few standards to test the players' chops on familiar material. The co-leaders play flugelhorn and trombone, respectively. Most of the arrangements come from pianist Bill Dobbins, who allows plenty of room for free-swinging solo work. The familiar vehicles here include Benny Golson's "Stablemates" and Sonny Stitt's "Eternal Triangle." I also spotted a tune called "Rich's Call" by Kerry Strayer, a baritone player of the highest stripe, and a skilled composer and arranger as well. It is interesting to note three compositions from jazz harmonica whiz, Hendrik Meurkens. Perhaps he has some connection to the band. Finally, it should be said that this session is directed straight down the middle of the bop highway. Simply an outstanding blowing session on songs that, amazingly enough, sound like songs!