Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band | Inspirations,  Vol.1

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Inspirations, Vol.1

by Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band

Beautiful new orchestrated versions of old jazz masters combined with new original contemporary jazz big band compositions
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Pleasant Pheasant
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
6:32 $0.99
2. Ack Varmland Du Schona/Dear Old Stockholm
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
8:05 $0.99
3. Seasons Wander
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
5:14 $0.99
4. Boone Dog Cafe
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
5:14 $0.99
5. Out of the Night
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
4:12 $0.99
6. Ear Trumpet
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
6:13 $0.99
7. I Know, Later
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
5:45 $0.99
8. Gloria's Step & More
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
6:05 $0.99
9. A Day In the Life
Jens Wendelboe's Big Crazy Energy New York Band Vol.1
7:38 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

“Wendelboe … has earned a place near the head of the class among contemporary big-band composers and arrangers.” — Jack Bowers, All About Jazz

On Inspirations, the latest release by trombonist-composer Jens Wendelboe’s Big Crazy Energy New York Band, entertainment and intelligence go hand in hand. A genre-busting musical polymath who’s equally at home in jazz, classical, and pop music, Wendelboe on this CD pays homage to the jazz and pop music that he have shaped his vision of big band jazz. It’s a conception that sets feet tapping and uplifts the spirit, even as it engages the mind and challenges the players in his band. Whether they’re playing Lennon and McCartney, Joe Henderson, or one of Wendelboe’s own unfailingly lyrical originals, the Big Crazy Energy New York Band delivers music that’s good for the body and soul. The CD, produced by Wendelboe and co-produced Steven Jankowski, will be released February 16, 2010 on Rosa Records.

When he’s not jetting off to play at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo, tour with Blood, Sweat, and Tears, or serve as musical director for pop diva Donna Summers, Wendelboe devotes himself to composing and arranging for the jazz orchestra he’s fronted since 1984, when he first moved to New York from his native Norway to study composition at the Manhattan School of Music. Previous releases by the band have focused on jazz classics and Wendelboe’s own tunes. Inspirations includes Wendelboe’s jazzy recasting of Lennon and McCartney’s “A Day in Life,” Billy Cobham’s jazz-rock fusion flagwaver, “Pleasant Pheasant,” and lesser known jazz gems like Joe Henderson’s “Out of the Night” and Scott LaFaro’s “Gloria’s Step.” Wendelboe’s originals range from “Seasons Wander,” an introspective ballad showcase for vocalist Deb Lyons, to the soul jazz stylings of “Boone Dog Café” to “I Know, Later,” a dedication to his son written in 3/4 time. As writer Steven Loewy points out, “As a composer, Wendelboe layers sounds with hard-driving, tight playing, while exhibiting a characteristic exuberance and sense of humor. The pieces, while fully ensconced in the big band tradition, reflect his diverse training and interests, sometimes borrowing rhythms and motifs from rock and classical genres.”

Wendelboe’s arrangements display a classical composer’s attention to melody, counterpoint, and orchestral color, a pop musician’s knack for catchy riffs and punchy rhythms, and a jazz connoisseur’s knowledge of the music’s tradition. For instance, Wendelboe opens “Gloria’s Step & More” with a dense Stravinsky-like fanfare played by the massed horns, and later in the piece, orchestrates pianist Bill Evans’ solo from the composition’s original recording on Sunday at the Village Vanguard. The traditional “Dear Old Stockholm,” a long-time favorite with jazz musicians, also features a nod to a previous jazz master, with a saxophone-section arrangement of Miles Davis’s solo on his 1952 Blue Note recording of the tune. “Boone Dog Café” features a blend of Jazz Messengers horn arrangements, greasy organ-combo jazz, and contemporary synthesizer touches. “Ear Trumpet” and “Seasons Wander” cradle its fetching melodies in luscious, velvety harmonies. Perhaps the album’s tour de force is “A Day in Life,” which transforms the Beatle’s magnum opus into a multi-part jazz suite bursting with orchestral colors, riffing call and response, lyrical counter melodies, and shifting rhythms.

With Wendelboe conducting, the band and its soloists bring Wendelboe’s charts to exuberant life. “Pleasant Pheasant” jumps out at the listener with its tight, aggressive section work crackling over a hard, funky beat, while saxophonists Mark Fineberg and Ken Gioffre engage in a classic tenor battle. Wendelboe himself displays elegant muscle during his solo, maneuvering the driving tempo with racing lines, big, swinging riffs and a sweet tone darkened by the occasional growl. Wendelboe also shines on Joe Henderson’s very hip “Out of the Night,” in a fleet, sassy solo that’s vibrant and optimistic. The ensemble’s smooth section work and sensitive dynamics provide a jewel-like setting for vocalist Lyons, whose rich alto voice brings depth and sparkle to the evocative lyrics by Gloria Rosa.

Few performers today can boast a resume as lengthy as Wendelboe’s. He’s performed before huge audiences in the U.S., Europe, and Japan as musical director for disco/soul diva Donna Summer. He’s also played a private New Year’s Eve concert for his Majesty King Mohammed the 6th of Morocco. He has scored music for the long-running television soap opera, The Guiding Light, and composed award-winning chamber and symphonic classical works. In 2006, he became the newest member of ’60s pop super group Blood, Sweat, and Tears. He must have crazy energy indeed, because for 26 years, in addition these activities — and others such as performing in musical theater orchestras and teaching — Wendelboe has fronted the Big Crazy Energy New York Band, some of whose members have been with him from the beginning. “With a resume as fat as that of Jens (pronounced Yens) Wendelboe,” Steven Loewy writes, “you might think he should be a household name. And you'd be right, of course, except that the accomplished Wendelboe, who now lives in the United States, had the misfortune (at least from a worldwide jazz perspective) to make his mark in relatively tiny and isolated Oslo, Norway.”

Household name or not, Jens Wendelboe and the Big Crazy Energy New York Band shake the jazz big band tradition to its foundations on the wide-ranging and entertaining Inspirations.



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Summary of Reviews in Diverse Forums
Jens Wendelboe’s Big Crazy Energy Big Band Vol. 1 “Inspiration”
Wendelboe revs up what contemporary big band is all about. This is a smoking hot set where everyone gets the chance to turn it up and turn it out. Really rising to the occasion by delivering a set of mostly originals that keep your attention, With 26 years as a pro delivering quality to all quadrants, this is a cat that it's time you got to know. On the money throughout.

Roar Helgheim / Kulture / 1/29/10
When he now, loaded with his newest version of his Big Crazy Energy New York Band, is releasing «Inspirations» , is it from a musician who is solidly anchored in the American jazz tradition.
16 men strong and one woman deliver everything in a tight arranged product full of energy with magnificent musicians.
BCENYB’s latest record is a delight. The big band lead-off track, “Pleasant Pheasant,” is my favorite.

Kens Francklin Jazz Notes
….it has a crazy sort of energy as it works its way through a blend of originals by the leader, three jazz standards (compliments of Joe Henderson, Scott Lafaro and Billy Cobham) and Lennon and McCartney’s “A Day in the Life.” There’s also a beautiful extended rendition (featuring a fiery solo by trumpeter Vinnie Cutro) of the traditional “Dear Old Stockholm”, which many jazz players have used as a wonderful improvisation vehicle through the years. My favorite: the band’s thorough exploration of the aforementioned Beatles classic. Wendelboe is a great leader and player.

Grego Applegate Edwards Blogs on Music and Musicians,
…“Inspirations, Volume One” (Rosa) has a polish and tightness that can seemingly only come about through a statistically significant number of nights on the bandstand.
Trombonist Jens Wendelboe leads the 16 piece band & vocalists through a program of his solid originals and a series of classic numbers from various sources. For example, there’s Cobham’s “Pleasant Pheasant” done with a full horn treatment that gives one renewed interest in the possibilities of large band Fusion, there’s “Dear Old Stockholm,” the traditional number made so much of by Miles and Getz, a Joe Henderson classic, and the Beatles “A Day in the Life.”
It’s the fullness and tightness of the band and its arrangements that make this program a pleasure to hear. If you like straight-ahead modern big band music, this one is for you!

By Jakob Baekgaard
CD/LP Review | Published: February 24, 201
All About Jazz
Whenever Norwegian-born trombonist, composer, and arranger Jens Wendelboe starts working with his Big Crazy Energy New York Band, there's a rock-solid guarantee that it won't be boring. With uncompromising energy and an impeccable flair for picking tunes that will make his band swing like mad cats on the prowl, Wendelboe serves up his very own funkified version of contemporary big band jazz on Inspirations, Vol. 1.
Billy Cobham's "Pleasant Pheasant" is an invitation to the dance floor with its fat brass attack, including a line-up of no less than four trombones, complemented by tight, electric bass lines and spacey keyboards.
Part of the charm of the album is the big band's bold readings of compositions as diverse as "Dear Old Stockholm" and The Beatles' "A Day in the Life." On the former, Wendelboe does some tasty scat singing while The Beatles' mellow epic is transformed into an ambitious, orchestral blowout that adds new surprising shades to the challenging structures of the tune.
Wendelboe also throws in four original compositions for good measure. "Boone Dog Café" is pure synthesizer-driven funk and "I Know, Later" swings effectively with surprising use of flutes, but it is two ballads that stand out: the tender "Seasons Wander" features Deb Lyons on vocals while "Ear Trumpet" sports a superior solo by electric bassist David Anderson, reminiscent of Steve Swallow.
Like a good night out, Inspirations, Vol. 1 is able to cover all the different phases needed. From sweaty floor fillers to soulful ballads and funny, experimental moments, it is a record that traverses a wide musical territory without taking itself too seriously. But make no mistake, Wendelboe certainly knows what he is doing and making a big band sound relaxed and yet tight is a feat only accomplished by the very best arrangers. Wendelboe, once again, shows himself to be at the top of his game.

By Raul d'Gama Rose
CD/LP Review | Published: February 25, 2010
Inspirations Vol. 1
Big Crazy Energy New York Band | Rosa (2009)
The key word in the name of trombonist Jens Wendelboe's band for Inspirations, "Big Crazy Energy New York Band," is "energy." If there is one thing that there is a surfeit of—and there is much to cheer about here—it is vim and verve. The other unusual and welcome aspect of the record is that it consists of original charts and charts by other composers that are not heard on big band records, avoiding a tendency to tread the tried and tested path of charts played so often as to become overly familiar. Wendelboe's writing—fresh, sparkling with surprises and, well, big crazy energy—is decidedly charming and well suited for large ensembles.
Wendelboe is also not afraid to experiment with sound. Who would have thought a synthesizer could sit comfortably with a tuba? This not only works on "Boone Dog Café," but also sounds like an organ in the ensemble parts—and surprisingly interesting in pianist Bill Heller's solo. The heave-ho from the rest of the cast works quite well in building up the song's tension—the key, in fact, to the success of this record. Every member of the band not only reads with proficiency, but brings a certain charm and excitement in his playing. The trumpets are burnished and brassy, the trombones speech-like and fully exploring the ends of the long tubing, with Wendelboe leading the way.
There is a certain excitement in hearing both the Billy Cobham-penned "Pleasant Pheasant"—a roaring rhythmic chart—and "Dear Old Stockholm," made famous by Stan Getz. Wendelboe's twist to Scott Lafaro's magnificent "Gloria's Step" shows him to be bright and full of ideas. "Ear Trumpet," a rather mysterious title, is otherwise a fine ballad, with another interesting synthesizer solo by Heller. Perhaps the best example of Wendelboe's skills as an arranger and ideas man is The Beatles' "A Day in the Life," which is turned inside out by the big band. When The Beatles performed this chart originally in 1967, the band employed an orchestra which played one note, held for an extraordinary length of time; creating the sonic shock at the song's end.
It is no small task to cast a vocalist in a big band because the singer must be able to carry a large cast behind him/her, as well as play a subdued, ensemble role. Tom Lellis was sensational with the Metropole Orchestra on his eponymous 2009 Adventure Music recording; here, Deb Lyons does a fine job on two tracks. For her and a good deal more, this record bears repeated listening, which brings growing enjoyment.

By Woodrow Wilkins
CD/LP Review | Published: February 26, 2010
Inspirations Vol. 1
Big Crazy Energy New York Band | Rose King (2010)
The Big Crazy Energy New York Band isn't a name to be taken lightly. This hard-charging group of musicians fuses big band depth to a selection of pop and jazz songs on Inspiration.
The band is led by composer/producer/trombonist Jens Wendelboe, who toured with Blood, Sweat and Tears, was musical director for Donna Summer and scored music for the television series The Guiding Light. Several luminaries comprise this diverse ensemble, including Michael Migliore (Maynard Ferguson), Joey Berkley (Funkasaurus Rex) and Bill Heller (The Rippingtons).
The energy jumps right out with the crazy take on Billy Cobham's "Pleasant Pheasant." The tenors, Mark Fineberg and Ken Gioffre, trade licks during a sizzling middle pass, with David Anderson delivers a funky bass line throughout. Heller's synth solo is supported by the horns, as drummer Lee Finkelstein gets to show off, pounding some high-speed tom rolls.
Vocalist Deb Lyons leads on the balladic "Seasons Wander." Though softer and slower than the other tracks, the blend of Lyons' earthy alto and Heller's acoustic piano, both complemented by the horns, maintain interest throughout.
"Boone Dog Café" is one of four original songs in the set, with trumpeter Steven Jankowski and alto saxophonist Tom Timko joining Wendelboe for the three-part lead. Bob Millikan's trumpet solo is answered by George Flynn on the tuba, while Heller's synth solo is accompanied only by bass and drums until the horns return to set up a reiteration of the melody.
An upbeat take on The Beatles' "A Day in the Life" closes the set. Some of the horns are muted, and Timko switches to flute. The different sections mix and match superbly during verse and chorus. Trumpeter Chris Rogers and altoist Migliore deliver spirited expressions, with Migliore working in a hint of the melody. Everyone's involved in the chaotic buildup to the song's middle break, the saxophones leading the sassy, playful interlude, with answers from the muted trumpets and trombones before the song reverts to mellower self.
Co-produced by Jankowski, Inspirations is an eclectic mix of old and new, each song played with a vigor that exemplifies the band's name.