Eyal Vilner Big Band | Swing Out!

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Jazz: Swing/Big Band Jazz: Big Band Moods: Mood: Party Music
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Swing Out!

by Eyal Vilner Big Band

Celebrating 10 years of original big band music, inspired by the swing dance and scene of NYC & beyond! This is the fourth album of the critically acclaimed 18-piece big band!
Genre: Jazz: Swing/Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Downhill
3:55 $1.25
2. In a Mellow Tone
4:43 $1.25
3. Dinah
3:38 $1.25
4. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans
3:55 $1.25
5. Saint Louis Blues
4:31 $1.25
6. That's All
3:52 $1.25
7. Big Apple Contest
3:01 $1.25
8. My Baby Just Cares for Me
3:26 $1.25
9. Going Uptown
3:32 $1.25
10. 5-10-15 Hours
3:28 $1.25
11. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
3:51 $1.25
12. I'm on My Way to Canaan Land
6:32 $1.25
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Swing Out! - the fourth album by the Eyal Vilner Big Band, marks an important development in the evolution of this fantastic group comprised of some of New York City’s finest musicians; one that is the direct result of the band’s interaction with the swing dance community. Vilner says, “In the past few years, we’ve started playing more and more for swing dancers. This has really influenced the way I play and write music. I fell in love with the dance and have become really passionate about the connection between musicians and dancers in the swing world. This exchange between dance and music, movement and sound, feels so new and refreshing - yet so natural and familiar. It feels like we’re bringing it back to where jazz and swing dancing grew up and developed together, influenced and inspired by one another. It’s like we’re bringing it back home.”

In what may very well be a first, this disc was recorded live in the studio with dancers dancing while the musicians played. Vilner says, “We are striving to create something new in the genre and tell our story through these aesthetics. The program on the album represents different sides of our music as a band.” The disc opens with Vilner’s “Downhill”, a new piece that has already become a favorite on the Lindy Hop scene in New York. A soulful outing, it has a solid shuffle beat that recalls the sound of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messenger. Vilner steps back from his conductor’s podium to take the album’s first solo, his smooth toned alto gliding rhythmically over the funky rhythm, after which trumpeter Brandon Lee takes a high flying turn, followed by trombonist Rob Edwards, who gets down and dirty with a plunger muted statement.

Vilner’s arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “In A Mellow Tone” was written in tribute to Count Basie and his band’s sumptuous dynamics. Vocalist Brianna Thomas sings the original lyrics with silky elan and then adds her self-composed vocalese chorus based on a Trummy Young trombone solo around which Vilner orchestrated the piece. Thomas is featured again on “Dinah”, an uptempo outing that is part of the band’s New Orleans program with Vilner wailing on both alto and clarinet and Andrew Millar’s washboard sharing rhythm section duties with Eran Fink’s drum kit. The Crescent City excursion continues on “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans”, with veteran trumpeter James Zollar delivering a growling plunger muted trumpet solo after which pianist Jordan Piper, bass trombonist Ron Wilkins and clarinetist Evan Arntzen follow with their own easy grooving improvisations.

The music moves up the river to Missouri for W. C. Handy‘s “Saint Louis Blues”. Vilner’s idiosyncratic arrangement, featuring Thomas’s soulful vocal, opens with a classic habanera beat that Jelly Roll Morton famously described as “the Latin tinge” and then traverses through Dixieland, swing and shuffle rhythms before finishing off with two big shout choruses where the band plays a Louis Armstrong solo orchestrated for all 12 horns. Vocalist Brandon Bain makes his debut with the band singing the romantic ballad “That’s All” on a pretty arrangement that also features Vilner’s lyrical alto sax. “Big Apple Contest” is taken from the 1939 film Keep Punchin’ that includes Frankie Manning’s spectacular choreography. Originally performed by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers it has become one of the most iconic dance routines in the swing dance community. Vilner notes, “In the swing community dancers create such impressive and musical choreographies that express jazz recordings through their dance. This inspired me to do the same on my end and write an arrangement that’s inspired by this classic choreography and expresses the dance through the music.”

“My Baby Just Cares for Me” is Vilner’s tribute to Nina Simone, originally commissioned by his fellow Israeli saxophonist Eli Degibri to be performed at the Red Sea Jazz Festival. Thomas sings the melody over Piper’s jaunty piano accompaniment after which saxophones and brass play Vilner’s orchestration of Simone’s original piano solo. “Going Uptown” is another dance inspired Vilner original. He says, “One of the basic first moves that swing dancers learn is a 6-count basic, which for me was so weird because the music is in 4/4! I made the melody start with a 6-count phrase and played with that motif throughout the song. At some point we even go into a brief waltz, but then end with a smacking big hit to bring us back to swing!” Vilner describes the Ruth Brown R&B classic “5-10-15 Hours” as “a straight up party tune with lots of call and response between Brianna and the band and a shout chorus developed from one of the piano licks on the tune’s original recording.” His tribute to the Andrews Sisters, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen”, opens with his wailing clarinet leading the band into classic swing mode that propels Michael Hashim’s gritty tenor solo. The date comes to an exciting close with Vilner’s epic arrangement of “I'm on My Way to Canaan Land” that features a guest appearance by virtuoso flautist Itai Kriss and has Thomas displaying her strong gospel roots as the song alternates between the Baladi groove to 6/8 Afro Cuban rhythm.

The joyous tension of syncopated rhythms that is called swing is a hard to define entity, but one that has spread from venues like Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom to night clubs and dance halls all over the world, propelling happy feet to move with the pulsations of music that just makes one feel good. That feeling is evident throughout this disc and in all the music played by the Eyal Vilner Big Band. Vilner knows “it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing” and you can hear it here. Just listen.

Russ Musto
New York City Jazz Record



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