Back in 2005, I walked into a room where a friend had just inserted Disc 1 of this set into a CD player. Jason Lindner’s arrangement of Giant Steps was playing. After a few bars, I knew that I had to have this album for myself. At the time, this involved ordering it from the record label in Barcelona at what felt like a totally unreasonable price and waiting weeks for it to arrive. But when it did, it changed my life.
This is the album that awakened my appetite for modern Big Band Jazz. It led me to some of my happiest moments exploring the genre, and several of my favorite live performances. It led me to explore in directions that I was not previously open to. It even re-defined what “Rhythm Changes” meant to me.
This album seems like a compilation, but it really isn’t. This is the premise: choose 8 upcoming composers from the New York Jazz Scene, instruct each to show up to a recording session with one original composition and one arrangement. Record it all with the same band in a few days. Put the originals on disc 1 and the arrangements on disc 2 and release it.
This one comes in layers and gets deeper with repeated listening.
Jason Lindner’s Giant Steps, and A Meditation on Two Chords were fast favorites that have stuck with me.
Frank Carlberg’s I Got Rhythm is worth taking the time to appreciate. It is one of the most exotic interpretations that I’ve encountered, but brilliantly powerful at the same time.
Likewise, Andrew Rathbun’s Nine and Witch Hunt are inspired. I’ve never loved him as a saxophonist, but man can that guy write for a band!