LABOR OF LOVE
Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra
Lenny King, Director
Scroll down to read review and liner notes
1. REUBEN'S BLUES (5:37) Gene Roland
(Anthony Brock, bass; Kirk Garrison, trumpet; Frank Catalano, tenor sax)
2. SEND IN THE CLOWNS (4:59) arr. Dave Barduhn
(Mike Flack, piano; Kirk Garrison, trumpet)
3. JUST FRIENDS (4:42) arr. John Kornegay
(Bryan Murray, tenor sax)
4. MY OLD FLAME (4:44) arr. Marty Paich
(Bryan Murray, tenor sax; Ben Clark, trumpet)
5. ALL OF ME (3:07) arr. Lennie Niehaus
(Joni King, vocalist)
6. MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE (5:49) arr. Tom Matta
(Hary Kozlowski, trombone)
7. TAKE THE "A" TRAIN (5:03 arr. Don Menza
(Mike Flack, piano; Bryan Murray, tenor sax; Chris Sarlas, alto sax; Nate Walcott, trumpet; Michael Fiala, drums)
8. WHEN SUNNY GETS BLUE (4:44) arr. Jerry Nowak
(Joni King, vocalist)
9. SAMBA DA YO (4:36)arr. Kirk Garrison
(Frank Catalano, tenor sax; Hary Kozlowski, trombone)
10. A LITTLE MINOR BOOZE (4:27) Willie Maiden
(Mike Flack, piano; Gary Parker, alto sax; Randy Kulik, trumpet)
11. OUT OF NOWHERE (3:24) arr. Bill Holman
(Frank Catalano, tenor sax)
12. MALAGUENA (4:42) arr. Bill Holman
(Hary Kozlowski, trombone; Bryan Murray, tenor sax; Frank Catalano, tenor sax)
CHICAGO METROPOLITAN JAZZ ORCHESTRA
Leader: Lenny King
Vocal Soloist: Joni King
Saxes: Chris Sarlas, lead alto; Gary Parker, alto;
Bryan Murray, tenor; Frank Catalano, tenor; Ken Kistner, alto/bari; Kent Lawson, bari
Trumpets: Kirk Garrison, lead; Nate Walcott; Jim Peterson; Ben Clark; Randy Kulik
Trombones: Hary Kozlowski, lead; Mark Corey; Mike Joyce; Steve Larkin; John McAllister, bass & tuba
Rhythm: Mike Flack, piano; Anthony Brock, bass; Michael Fiala, drums; Al Keeler, Latin perc; Jerry Steinhilber, Latin Perc.
Package Art Design: Jeff King
Liner Notes: by John Burnett, Jazz Host, WDCB-FM Radio
"A True Labor of Love...."
When Lenny King asked me to write liner notes for his second CD, my thoughts went back in time to the first album produced by the CMJO - "Live and Screamin’ "- recorded at FitzGerald’s Nightclub in 1997. The original album included big band sounds of Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and other famous bandleaders. It had atmosphere, presence and brilliant musicianship. I found myself pondering the precedence the original album had set, and wondering what could possibly come next!
Not surprisingly, the answers quickly came to me as I listened to the mix down tape of "Labor of Love." First and foremost, the band has matured even further with many of the same key sidemen and a couple new great players including bassist Anthony Brock and Mike Flack on piano. Also, two lovely vocal charts have been added, giving the album additional flavor and attraction.
The approach Lenny King has taken in the production of this CD is very worthy of comment. He has combined his musical strengths with imagination. A wide variety of composers and arrangers have been selected to meet the intended diversity of this album, ranging from Stephen Sondheim and Bill Holman, to Chicago’s own John Kornegay who wrote the arrangement of "Just Friends", and Tom Matta’s arrangement of "My One and Only Love". Add to this the collaboration of three of the band’s top players, Catalano, Kozlowski, and Garrison on the composition "Samba Da Yo" and what do you have - variety at its’ best, without subtracting from the sounds of great big band jazz!
The first cut on the album, "Reuben’s Blues" composed and arranged by Gene Roland, sets the mood with a bass intro by Anthony Brock followed by the bone ensemble which is then enhanced by the saxes. Trumpet soloist Kirk Garrison does some nice half-valving and brilliant lead work. Frank Catalano takes an excellent solo, which begins quietly and crescendos to an exciting climax.
Lenny King has the talent for picking talent. This is clearly evident when listening to Mike Flack, a former student of Len’s, who is clearly a professional pianist with a great future. In "Send In the Clowns" Mike begins with some interesting dissonant chords, which graduate to a soulful delivery stating his understanding of Sondheim’s intent for this ever-popular classic. Kirk Garrison’s dramatic high note solo always brings down the house. This great chart was arranged by Dave Barduhn for the Kenton orchestra.
The two great Bill Holman charts on this album, "Malaguena" and "Out of Nowhere", feature some of Chicago’s finest talent - Hary Kozlowski on trombone, Bryan Murray and Frank Catalano on tenor sax. Ben Clark’s trumpet and Bryan Murray’s tenor sax grab your attention on "My Old Flame" with their mutual understanding of the song. And each of the CMJO sections provide powerful tone color all the way to the conclusion, ending in a quiet sustained cadence which further enhances this cut. "My One and Only Love" showcases Hary Kozlowski who is truly a master of his art. Hary demonstrates not only feeling but technical proficiency on the instrument of his choice - the trombone. He uses his wide range and fluency throughout the entire piece.
Many great jazz albums include original material composed by band members and "Labor Of Love" features a fun composition called "Samba Da Yo" jointly composed by Frank Catalano and Hary Kozlowski, arranged by Kirk Garrison. Just like the players, the opening is wild, after which Hary and Frank come together in unison with an interesting theme that is reminiscent of a Pete Rugolo early sixties TV theme. Later on the trombone section states its’ case and Frank takes a solo that jives. I also compliment the percussion section. Al Keeler and Michael Fiala truly do a great job.
There are two vocal cuts on this album by Joni King. "All of Me" is a great upbeat tune and in "When Sunny Gets Blue" Joni shows how well she can deliver a lyric. Joni , a retired H. S. Vocal Music Director, sings regularly with the orchestra wherever they appear and helps her husband, Lenny, with the band’s activities and promotions. This is a team that has enjoyed making music together ever since meeting in college over 40 years ago, representing a true "Labor Of Love".
Billy Strayhorn’s "Take the ‘A’ Train", arranged by Don Menza, is certainly one of my favorite tracks. Mike Flack comes in with a very swinging piano entry and Frank Catalano, Bryan Murray and Chris Sarlas swing right through the cut. Nate Walcott does a splendid job on trumpet and the final stages of this number showcase the precision of both the sax and brass sections as they execute great phrases.
All of the other cuts are terrific too, and it is a pleasure to see another Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra CD hit the streets. I, for one, have added it to my extensive collection of big bands and I know that it will soon be on the shelves of all other big band enthusiasts.
John Burnett, Morning Jazz Host
90.9FM WDCB - Glen Ellyn/Chicago
CD - Labor of Love: Review by Jack Bowers, All About Jazz
The Chicago Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra’s first recording ( Live and Screamin’, a concert date from October–November ’97) was so impressive the thought here was that only a “labor of love” could possibly equal or surpass it. Well, the millennium has arrived, and with it the CMJO’s Labor of Love, and if the band’s second excursion can’t eclipse the flash and excitement of Screamin’, it comes close often enough to dissuade any reproval. As usual, the CMJO’s repertoire is conspicuously inspired by the Stan Kenton library with splendid charts written for Kenton’s orchestra by Gene Roland (“Reuben’s Blues”), Dave Barduhn (“Send in the Clowns”), Marty Paich (“My Old Flame”), Lennie Niehaus (“All of Me”), Willie Maiden (“A Little Minor Booze”) and Bill Holman (“Out of Nowhere,” “Malaguena”).
The session’s midsection accommodates tasteful arrangements by John Kornegay (“Just Friends”), Tom Matta (“My One and Only Love”), Don Menza (“Take the ‘A’ Train”), Jerry Nowak (“When Sunny Gets Blue”) and the CMJO’s superb lead trumpeter, Kirk Garrison (Frank Catalano / Hary Kozlowski’s “Samba da Yo”). Personnel has changed to some extent; gone from the earlier recording are such standout soloists as trumpeters Joey Tartell and Terry Connell, tenor saxophonist Mark Colby, trombonist John Mose and pianist Don Stille. Stepping into their shoes in commendable fashion are Garrison, tenors Catalano and Bryan Murray, trumpeters Ben Clark and Randy Kulik, altos Chris Sarlas and Gary Parker, trombonist Kozlowski and young pianist Mike Flack (Garrison, Catalano, Kulik, Kozlowski and Sarlas also performed on Live and Screamin’ ). Drummer Michael Fiala is a first–rate dep for Charlie Braugham and Bob Chmel, who shared those duties on Live and Screamin’. Murray is showcased on “Just Friends,” Kozlowski on “My One and Only Love,” rising star Catalano on “Out of Nowhere.” Another bright new addition is Mrs. King, vocalist Joni, whose lucid soprano is heard to good advantage on “All of Me” and “When Sunny Gets Blue” (with marvelous support from the ensemble on both numbers).
The CMJO opens with a clear–cut winner, Roland’s shuffling “Reuben’s Blues” (whose walking intro by bassist Anthony Brock paves the way for persuasive ad–libs by Garrison and Catalano). In a similar vein is Maiden’s “Minor Booze,” whose understated but effective solos are by Flack, Parker and Kulik with searing high–note passages courtesy of Garrison. The arrangements of “My Old Flame,” “Send in the Clowns” and “Malaguena” are widely seen as classics, while Menza’s dynamic treatment of Billy Strayhorn’s “‘A’ Train” (fueled by Flack’s romping piano intro) hurtles along that track as well. Catalano shows on “Nowhere” that he’s going somewhere (while the CMJO shows it has power to spare), and Murray proves an able counterpart on “Friends.”
Although nothing can match the heart–stopping spontaneity of a live recording, the CMJO has fashioned a remarkably colorful studio session with enough sparkle and fire to earn the admiration of even the most demanding big–band enthusiast.
Jack Bowers, Reviewer, All About Jazz