The question arises, often rhetorically, in discussion of music and sports: what would happen if you took a great team and add one more great player?
This album answers the question with a resounding “great music!”
The great team is The Jazz Orgy, winner of the 2010 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) award in the Best Jazz Artist category. The band is comprised of four highly-accomplished musicians whose contributions make the whole of their music greater than the sum of its parts. Whether live or in the studio, the music is both dynamic and creative.
The Jazz Orgy is anchored by drummer Mike Underwood – one of the best percussionists you will ever hear in any genre – who is equally adept at applying delicate sonic flourishes that make the ballads sound just right and/or driving the up-tempo numbers with precision force and energy. Bassist Andy Mertens sets the groove in a way that speaks to his deep understanding of melody and style; bow in hand, Mertens turns the upright bass into a sonic palette that adds artistic touches that complement and enhance the music. He is also a composer who contributed the haunting “11.5” with its sophisticated Latin- flavored rhythm and eminently literate lyrics.
Mark Martin’s keyboard playing can draw you in with just a couple notes, perfectly placed, then blow you away with power chords that create a fantastic synergy with Underwood and Mertens. He, too, is an accomplished composer whose “Sway” is one of the highlights of the album. The foursome is rounded out by saxophonist and vocalist Steve Cooper, co-winner of the 2010 WAMI in the Best Reed/Brass Player category. When called upon, “Coop” steps up with scintillating all-star solos, then fits his playing into the harmonies that produce extraordinary music. His vocals give depth and meaning to “11.5,” “Maybe Sadness” and “When Once You’ve Said Goodbye.”
To this great team, add Bob Levy, player, composer and arranger, who contributes equally-impressive solos and harmonies on both the trumpet and flugelhorn. The result is an album that gets better with every listening.