Vegas Records VR1008 is “Fascinating Rhythm and Latin Journey IV”.
It features in a double CD two full albums by Jazz Ensemble I and the Latin Jazz Ensemble.
Disc One leads off UNLV I with eight selections, reprising their set as a finalist from the prestigious 2018 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, followed by The Contemporary Jazz Ensemble and The Honors Quartet.
Disc Two begins with eight selections of the award winning Latin Jazz Ensemble, directed by Uli Geissendoerfer followed by selections from The Honors Trio and the Estella Yun Quartet.
Fascinating Rhythm/Latin Journey IV, a 2018 Vegas Records CD release, documents the exceptional accomplishments of our 2017–2018 award-winning UNLV School of Music, Division of Jazz Studies.
Jazz Ensemble I leads off Disc One reprising their set as a finalist from the prestigious 2018 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival. Thad Jones’s composition, Interloper, includes great improvisations from Ganiyu Dauda, on tenor saxophone, and pianist Patrick Hogan, co-winner of the 2018 DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award (SMA) for best soloist in the graduate college category. Por Ahora, an original by Jorge Machain, offers exciting solos from Dauda, on tenor sax, brilliant guest jazz trumpet artist-in-residence,Gilbert Castellanos and drummer Angelo Stokes. Bye Bye Blues, a clever Rob McConnell piece, is a vehicle for pianist Hogan’s remarkable playing. Machain’s innovative treatment of George Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm, that received a 2018 DownBeat undergraduate college outstandingperformance SMA for large ensemble arrangement, highlights energized improvisations from guitarist Nick Lee, trombonist Nick Veslany and drummerStokes and completes the Monterey set. Jazz Ensemble I continues with SammyNestico’s swinging chart, Just Friends, by John Klenner, with terrific solos from Hogan on piano, Jeymar Perez, on alto sax, and features a lovelyvocal performance from long-time UNLV supporter and world-class guest jazz artist, Laura Taylor. Hogan’s marvelous arrangement of the Tadd Dameron classic, Tadd’s Delight, includes stylistically authentic improvisations by Machain, on trumpet, and trombonist Veslany. Fake Blues, a creative composition by Michael Spicer, who garnered a 2018 DownBeat graduate college outstanding performance SMA for his large ensemble arrangement of Cole Porter’s Love For Sale from our previous release, Rail Trails/Latin Journey III, includes fine solos from Machain, on flugelhorn, and Spicer, on tenor sax. Jazz Ensemble I finishes with Vern Sielert’s inventive arrangement of Michel LeGrand’s You Must Believe In Spring, with dazzling improvisations from Dan Foster, on flugelhorn, and Jake Yansen, on alto sax.
The Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, directed by Julian Tanaka, performs Spicer’s, Patchwork, winner of a DownBeat Magazine 2018 graduate college small ensemble outstanding performance composition SMA, and includes impressive solos from Daniel Egwurube, on flute, Spicer, on tenor sax, and pianist Leo Berenguel.
The Honors Quartet, winner of the graduate college small group 2018 DownBeat SMA with pianist Hogan, saxophonist Rick Keller, bassist Dave Ostrem and drummer Stokes, closes Disc One with three contrasting pieces including Blue Brew, composed by Ostrem, For Pat, written by Keller, and Hogan’s Mythos.
Disc Two begins with our amazing Latin Jazz Ensemble, directed by Uli Geissendoerfer. Please refer to Uli’s liner notes describing their eclectic set.
The Honors Trio follows with pianist Hogan, and undergraduate students Michael Hoffman, on drums and bassist Ruben Van-Gundy, performing Hogan’s Oasis. Pianist Hogan plays and sings I Didn’t Know About You, by Duke Ellington and Bob Russell, in an intimate solo setting. Keyboardist and composer Estella Yun closes Disc Two with her composition, City Lights, written for her Electric Band, with drummer Stokes and bassist Ostrem, that received a 2018 DownBeat Magazine graduate college blues/pop/rock small group outstanding performance SMA, and her stunning performance of Chick Corea’s, Five Hundred Miles High.
UNLV School of Music, Division of Jazz Studies enjoyed a very productive year in 2018. Our Program was featured as the cover story in the January issue of JazzEd magazine, the premier publication in Jazz education, and Las Vegas Weekly magazine named our Jazz Program as one of the ten key developments in the first 60 years of UNLV’s history. Jazz Ensemble I, directed by associate professor Nathan Tanouye and professor Dave Loeb, was a finalist in the College Big Band Division at the 2017 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, competing among some of the top college ensembles in the nation at one of the most respected educational jazz festivals. Our Honors Trio won the College Combo Division at this festival and earned a performance at theacclaimed Monterey Jazz Festival, September 21, among many renowned jazz artists. Rail Trails/Latin Journey III, our 2017 Jazz Studies Program CD release, garnered our ninth consecutive outstanding review from the respected publication, Jazz Times. We hosted our first Essentially Ellington Western Regional High School Jazz Festival with notable performers and clinicians from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, directed by Wynton Marsalis, including trumpeter Kenny Rampton, UNLV alum, trombonist Chris Crenshaw and Julius Tolentino . UNLV assistant professor of Jazz Studies, Adam Schroeder, was named in the DownBeat Magazine Reader’s Poll as one of the top baritone saxophonists in the world. Our Jazz Studies Program received six 2018 DownBeat Magazine StudentMusic Awards, considered among the highest honors in jazz education, contributing to the seventeen that UNLV students have received since 2010. UNLV students and alumni continue to teach at prestigious institutions and perform for major shows internationally. Jazz Studies students contributed many compositions and arrangements for this CD, which is a testament to the superlative instruction they receive in Jazz composition and arranging at UNLV. In the upcoming academic year, we are thrilled to initiate our Jazz and Commercial Music curriculum to supplement existing coursework in preparing students for careers in the professional music industry and as music educators.
We dedicate this CD to professor emeritus Virko Baley, who served the UNLV School of Music with distinction for many years and is released in loving memory of Bobby Scan, former UNLV trombone instructor and contributor to the distinguished legacy of our Program.
Dave Loeb-Director of The Division of Jazz Studies, UNLV School of Music
Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished listener:
I present to you our fourth Latin Journey around the globe. Every year we have some old members some new and this year was abundant with new talent, as you will hear for yourself. One thing we pride ourselves in, are our original arrangements and approaches. All, with the exception of Feeling of Jazz by Latin great Francisco Torres, are homemade. Two of the songs, People make the world go Round and Feeling of Jazz were recorded at our sister university CSN by John Jacobson in a live session. That means we just went in like the good old days. All in one room, save for the drums, record two takes, keep the second one and fix it in the mix. Let’s capture the moment, and we did.
On with the music: It starts with an original, Tango from my album Colors, beautifully arranged by our pianist Bennett Mason. Originally written for my kids as a tug of war between Major and Minor, vocalist Pascale Elia’s great lyrics gave it a wonderful new, existentialist twist. Check out the great solos by newbies Peter Goomroyan on violin, Sam Ramirez on guitar and veteran Jake Yansen on tenor. Gary’s vocals are simply fabulous. Next is Spain. Nobody can top the original on Light as a Feather except Chick Corea himself, as he did in his new version with the Akoustic Band. Carlos Mata-Alvarez lifted the latter and arranged it for us a couple of years ago and now we threw Gary and more of the original version in the mix. With the combination of the two were trying to resolve the “issue” .. you’ll be the judge. It features three very cool and very different solos by Bennett,Daniel and Jake and cadenzas by Amy and Michael. The Feeling Of Jazz, a rather obscure Ellington tune is arranged by the great and prolific Francisco Torres, musical director with Pancho Sanchez and previous guest artist with us. All solos by Peter, Brian great and Jakehave that wonderful here and now feel. They’re followed by a great exchange between Amy on timbales and Michael on the drums in the end. Caribe, by the great Dominican pianist Michel Camilo, was arranged by former member Daniel Alameda. When James Whiting joined us we needed to revive this classic and he shows that a classical percussionist can have some real jazz chops! And speaking of which, check out the great flute solo by our new member, Daniel Egwurube, another crossover from the classical world. People make the world go Round is my favorite tune of the Stylistics. Please behold thespectacular voice of Marjana Sobol. You will hear much more of her next year. She is on loan by Cirque du Soleil and we are very glad to have as master’s student at UNLV. I love the arrangement Bennett crafted up and the spirited solos by Marjana, Jesus on bass and Sammy on guitar. It feels like busy metropolitan street scene is converging upon us. On with the classics: Bilongo is one of the great Latin staples any day, on any stage. Here in a version inspired by Tito Rodriguez’s recording from the early 80s. We kindly urge you to get up and dance a little Salsa. Scorpion is a funky ditty by the Budos, arranged by Jake Yansen, and another departure from Latin to more world music with great solos by Brian and Jake. To cap it off we feature Ya-trata, Tani Maria’s rocket blast of a tune. Bennet and Sammy and the always incredible Gary Fowler take us home. I sincerely hope you enjoyed our trip through all kinds of musicalworlds all with a Latin feel and by all means catch us live. It’s a really fun band!
On a personal note I am very happy we get a chance to present this fabulous set of music by all the ensembles of UNLV on the newly founded Vegas Records. It presents and will provide a new avenue for creative music and supporting young artists in Vegas. Stay tuned for much more greatmusic to come.
Uli Geissendoerfer, director of the Latin Jazz Ensemble, coordinator of small groups and founder of Vegas Records.