The Big Head

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Liana Jonas
Ballin' the Jack's second release, The Big Head, jitterbugs its way right out of the starting gate with a rendering of Duke Ellington's "Jubilee Stomp." This time around sees the contemporary jazz septet interpreting swing and blues classics by such legends as Benny Goodman, Jelly Roll Morton, and Tommy Dorsey, among others, and paying tribute to the beginning of bebop or, as some call the genre, the root of rock & roll. Ballin' the Jack also flex their muscles in the area of originals, of which there are five on this disc. Of note is the bluesy "L'Esprit Django," written by guitarist Ben Sher, whose performance here is best described as smooth, smooth, smooth. The Big ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Liana Jonas
Ballin' the Jack's second release, The Big Head, jitterbugs its way right out of the starting gate with a rendering of Duke Ellington's "Jubilee Stomp." This time around sees the contemporary jazz septet interpreting swing and blues classics by such legends as Benny Goodman, Jelly Roll Morton, and Tommy Dorsey, among others, and paying tribute to the beginning of bebop or, as some call the genre, the root of rock & roll. Ballin' the Jack also flex their muscles in the area of originals, of which there are five on this disc. Of note is the bluesy "L'Esprit Django," written by guitarist Ben Sher, whose performance here is best described as smooth, smooth, smooth. The Big Head features guest artist and Ellington "specialist" Anthony Coleman on the Hammond B3 organ. You hear the musician in fine form on Leadbelly's down-home blues joint "Dick's Holler," where Coleman plays a soulful, stomp-your-foot extended solo. Coleman also takes a nice back-up turn on Ellington's "Fugueaditty," the seldom-heard fugue number. The best number on this collection comes by way of a raw and streetwise rendition of Ellington's "Creole Love Call," which features Frank London performing a gritty and steamy mute solo originally played by Bubber Miley. Listeners already familiar with Ballin' the Jack should not expect to hear much of the raucous, in-your-face, frenetic jazz numbers that the group has become known for. The Big Head focuses more on slow jams and smoldering blues numbers, which are executed with grace, skill, and creativity. Credit must be given to musicians who are able to revive classics and inject a contemporary flavor into them -- as evidenced on the ensemble's version of "Moonlight Serenade," which, incidentally, incorporates original music by Glen Miller from a '40s radio broadcast. That said, this is one of the things that Ballin' the Jack do best -- they seamlessly marry the old with the new, and kiss it with their own unique imprint. What a thoughtful and skilled recording this is -- their forebears would be proud.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/27/2001
  • Label: Knitting Factory
  • UPC: 035828028929
  • Catalog Number: 289
  • Sales rank: 393,489

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Jubilee Stomp (3:54)
  2. 2 Dick's Holler (7:07)
  3. 3 Seven Come Eleven (1:23)
  4. 4 Tapped Out (7:34)
  5. 5 L' Espirit Django (2:10)
  6. 6 The Big Head (5:15)
  7. 7 Fugueaditty (4:04)
  8. 8 Noche Loisada (4:40)
  9. 9 Day Dream (2:28)
  10. 10 Smokefish (2:17)
  11. 11 Moonlight Serenade (3:12)
  12. 12 Jug (Dexter Digs In) (5:15)
  13. 13 Creole Love Call (5:08)
  14. 14 Betaville (6:51)
  15. 15 Mood Indigo, Pt. 2 (2:56)
  16. 16 I'm Getting Sentimental over You (1:22)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Ballin' the Jack Primary Artist
George Schuller Drums, Bells
Anthony Coleman Hammond Organ
Matt Darriau Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Noise
Andy Laster Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone
Frank London Trumpet, Muted Trumpet
Ben Sher Guitar, Electric Piano, Wurlitzer
Curtis Hasselbring Trombone
Joe Fitzgerald Bass
Technical Credits
Gene Ammons Composer
George Schuller Arranger, Producer
Coleman Hawkins Composer
Matt Darriau Arranger, Composer, Producer, Adaptation
Michael Dorf Executive Producer
Andy Laster Arranger, Composer, Adaptation
Frank London Arranger, Composer, Adaptation
Ben Sher Arranger, Composer, Adaptation
Curtis Hasselbring Arranger, Composer, Adaptation
Ballin' the Jack Arranger, Adaptation
Gary Fagin Arranger, Adaptation
Peter Karl Engineer
Sascha von Oertzen Mastering
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