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Eyal Vilner Big Band | Almost Sunrise

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Jazz: Swing/Big Band Jazz: Bebop Moods: Mood: Fun
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Almost Sunrise

by Eyal Vilner Big Band

19 of NYC’s finest Jazz musicians performing intriguing new arrangements of jazz standards and originals. A unique blend of traditional jazz music with new concepts, colors, and sounds
Genre: Jazz: Swing/Big Band
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Rabbit
3:07 $0.99
2. Stablemates
4:43 $0.99
3. It Don't Mean a Thing
3:32 $0.99
4. Lush Life
5:59 $0.99
5. It Be Feeling Like the Blues
5:31 $0.99
6. Straighten Up and Fly Right
4:14 $0.99
7. The Gypsy
4:25 $0.99
8. The District of the Blues
4:28 $0.99
9. It's All Right With Me
4:37 $0.99
10. Centerpiece
3:40 $0.99
11. Tee Pee Time
4:38 $0.99
12. Almost Sunrise
6:04 $0.99
13. Centerpiece (Bonus Track)
6:36 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Contemporary yet classic, traditional but modern, The Eyal Vilner Big Band brings the timeless sounds of the Swing Era into the 21st Century, simultaneously preserving and renewing the mood of a time when jazz was the popular music that swept the country off its feet and onto dance floors all across America. A sound that continues to reverberate all around the globe, it captured the heart of the Israeli born saxophonist/clarinetist-arranger/composer, who leads this swinging aggregation from his adopted home of New York City, the jazz capital of the world.

A decade long veteran of the dynamic Tel Aviv jazz scene, Vilner honed his musical talents at New York’s New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music under the tutelage of NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Owens, who asserts “his skills as a composer and arranger are excellent and his creativity continues to grow every day. His musical future is filled with many bright moments.” Owens’ deeds confirm his words, having chosen Vilner’s exciting arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “Bright Mississippi” to open his critically acclaimed album, The Monk Project.

It was in 2012 at The New School’s 25th Anniversary Legacy Concert that Vilner, an esteemed alumnus of the venerable institution’s outstanding jazz program, first introduced two of this date’s most inventive orchestrations. In a featured segment of the evening’s program dubbed New School, New Traditions his ensemble was joined by NEA Jazz Masters Frank Wess and Jimmy Heath, performing Vilner’s arrangements of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and Benny Golson’s “Stablemates.” His reverence of the music’s tradition and the desire to not only conserve, but to extend it, is clearly demonstrated in these charts.

All of the music on this, Vilner’s sophomore album -- the successor to his critically acclaimed debut Introducing the Eyal Vilner Big Band -- beautifully reaches back into jazz’s rich history while remaining stylistically unique due to Vilner’s fresh arrangements. His profound respect for the long tradition of his instrument is evident in every note he plays.

The musicians in the band, all first call players on the bustling New York jazz scene, hail from all over the globe, from Asia and Australia to Great Britain and Israel. The international aggregation comes together as a consummately cohesive ensemble in which young artists join forces with seasoned veterans to fill the orchestra with musicians who are both accomplished section players and fiery soloists.

The band comes out swinging hard on Vilner’s “The Rabbit” with riffing reeds and blaring brass coming together to give the music a powerful sound, firmly rooted in the big band tradition of Count Basie. Young veteran pianist Tadataka Unno kicks off the piece’s solos with a fleet outing tagged by the horns in an Ellingtonian dialogue after which trumpeter Matt Jodrell takes a turn. Vilner follows, blowing authoritatively with a robust alto sound inspired not only by great altoists like Bird, Johnny Hodges and Jackie McLean, but also very influenced by tenor masters such as Prez, Coleman Hawkins and Don Byas. Brass and reed interludes punctuated by solo statements by bassist Jennifer Vincent and drummer Joe Strasser bring things to an exciting finish. Vilner’s arrangement of Golson’s classic “Stablemates” features Lucas Pino with a virtuosic tenor solo that is alternately smooth and tough, utilizing the full range of his horn. Jodrell, baritonist Eden Bareket and alto saxophonist Andrew Gould each contribute four bar interludes before Pino takes the melody out closing the orchestration, redolent of Gillespie’s classic bop big band with an electrifying cadenza.

Songbird Charenee Wade is featured on a pair of songs out of the Ellington songbook. The award winning vocalist swings hard on Duke’s “It Don't Mean a Thing” that also features solo statements from Wayne Tucker on trumpet, clarinet virtuoso Dan Block and Vilner on alto. The leader’s beautiful arrangement of Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” opens sparsely with Unno playing solo and Wade singing the lyric stirringly with solely piano accompaniment before flutes and clarinets enter airily ushering in a swingtime interlude spotlighting the vigorous tenor of Asaf Yuria.

Jimmy Owens’ “It Be Feeling Like The Blues” showcases Vilner’s soulful alto, with strong solo statements also coming from trombonist Nick Finzer and veteran trumpeter Greg Gisbert. Vocalists Nadia Washington and Charles Turner join Charenee Wade on Vilner’s bebopping arrangement of the Nat King Cole’s classic “Straighten Up And Fly Right” with the three singers trading scat choruses on the band’s joyful tribute to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. Wade returns to the solo spotlight, along with Vilner, on Billy Reid’s “The Gypsy,” the World War II era ballad introduced to the US by the Ink Spots and later covered majestically by Charlie Parker.

The second Jimmy Owens composition on the date, “The District Of The Blues,” is given a loping Basie styled southwestern swing treatment with down home solos by Gould on alto and Tucker on trumpet. Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me” has Wade and Turner conversing with vocal ease before the band kicks things up a notch for Yuria’s high flying tenor solo after which the duo returns to wail the song out. Washington joins the pair for another LH&R styled trio outing, singing Jon Hendrick’s lyric to Harry Sweets Edison’s “Centerpiece” on an arrangement that also features Vanguard Jazz Orchestra veteran John Mosca on trombone. (Mosca is heard again soloing with section mates Nick Finzer and Max Seigel, along with bassist Vincent on the bonus track instrumental version of the piece that closes the disc.)

Vilner’s hard swinging arrangement of Clark Terry’s “Tee Pee Time” with its fiery brass shouts serves as a racing solo vehicle for Gisbert’s trumpet and Mosca’s trombone, as well as his own alto, which references Ben Webster’s famous “Cottontail” solo at the beginning of his improvisation. Vilner’s multifaceted talents, both as a player and writer, on display throughout, are nowhere more evident than on his beautiful concluding title track “Almost Sunrise.” He notes, “It's inspired by this magical time of day. Whether you're in between dream and waking, or just passed the stage of being tired, you just glide on this new wave of energy and creativity. Most of this music was written around that time. It seems like something special happens right about then.” The music here is indeed something special. Old yet new, familiar but fresh, it’s jazz for the people at its most enduring best. A swinging sound signaling a new day for the Eyal Vilner Big Band.



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