John Yao & His 17-Piece Instrument | Flip-Flop

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Jazz: Big Band Jazz: Experimental Big Band Moods: Type: Instrumental
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by John Yao & His 17-Piece Instrument

Big Band Jazz that is at times angular and broken, other times linear and swinging, offering a broad view of the possibilities of jazz composition.
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Flip-Flop
10:07 album only
2. New Guy
8:42 album only
3. Slow... Children At Play
9:51 album only
4. Soundscape No. 1
2:30 album only
5. Hellgate
8:23 album only
6. Reflection
8:09 album only
7. Ode to the Last Twinkie
6:30 album only
8. Soundscape No. 2
4:08 album only
9. Illumination
9:05 album only
10. Out of Socket
9:58 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Liner Notes from Jim McNeely of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

It takes some time, but it finally happens. You get this crazy idea that you want to compose and arrange something. You assemble the players. They play. Most of it surprises you; some of it sounds terrible. But there’s that one place you get right, and it blows you away. You wrote that! Now you’ve got the bug. You might be 25, 35, 50 years old. But you’re hooked, and on your way.
John Yao is on his way. I first knew him as a great trombone player. But over the last few years he has really come into his own compositionally. His writing is creative and full of surprises. At times angular and broken, other times linear and swinging, he offers a broad view of the possibilities of jazz composition. And in the tradition of all great composer/arrangers he negotiates the central challenge of the genre: composing music that inspires improvisation. There is a lot of writing for the ensemble, yet there is a lot of room for the soloists. Sometimes he uses two, three or four soloists to build a sonic texture.
For this recording John has assembled a group of terrific musicians. I’m really impressed with the way they handle the different “zones” he visits. Flip-Flop is full of angles. And check out the way that John O’Gallagher’s alto solo cross-fades into Rich Perry’s tenor solo. At the beginning of New Guy John and Andy Gravish have a nice exchange, leading into the head. Vince Cherico’s drum dances around staccato horn figures. And that final chord! You won’t find it in any arranging text. Slow Children at Play starts with static layers before going into a medium Latin groove, showcasing a couple of my old Vanguard Jazz Orchestra colleagues, Rich Perry and Luis Bonilla. Hellgate is a shuffle that ranges from soft and controlled to loud and raucous. Along with great solos from Dave Smith and Jon Irabagon it has a really nice “arranger’s chorus” from the composer. Reflection starts subdued, with John soloing. Builds with some double-time rhythm, leading to a thoughtful solo from Jesse Stacken on piano, and finally surprises with a bass-less tutti chorus. Ode to the Last Twinkie starts very carefully, not hinting at the wild action to come, which culminates with the four soloists blowing freely over the band. In Illumination John sets things up with repeated figures, and Alejandro Aviles’s alto solo, only to explode into a burning 4/4 for Frank Basile’s baritone sax and Jesse Stacken.
Worth a special note are the two Soundscapes. Rhythmically free they serve as sonic palate-cleansers, strategically placed in the program. In stark contrast to these is Out of Socket, a medium swing piece that gives a number of soloists space to blow.
It’s great to hear what John has written for this album. Yes, he’s definitely on his way. And I’m definitely ready to hear more.

John Yao, Compositions, Conductor, Trombone

John O’Gallagher - Alto, Soprano Saxes, Flute
Alejandro Aviles – Alto Sax, Flute
Rich Perry – Tenor Sax
Jon Irabagon – Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Frank Basile – Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet

Trumpets & Flugels
John Walsh
Jason Wiseman
David Smith
Andy Gravish

Luis Bonilla
Matt McDonald
Kajiwara Tokunori
Jennifer Wharton

Jesse Stacken
Robert Sabin
Vince Cherico



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