Tiger by the Tailby George Gruntz
Some silly questions have a way of reappearing from time to time, and one of them is, "Are big bands dead?" No, of course they aren't. They became less plentiful after World War II, but despite the fact that economics work against them (it's easier to feed four or five mouths than 19 or 20), worthwhile big bands can still be found if one knows where to look. The George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band celebrated its 33rd anniversary in 2005, the year Tiger by the Tail was recorded in New York City. Gruntz, like the late Duke Ellington, is a fine pianist but operates from the perspective that his band (as opposed to his acoustic piano) is his "instrument" -- and on this 53-minute CD, Gruntz (who turned 73 in 2005) oversees a 19-person, intercontinental lineup includes, among others, Marvin Stamm, Jack Walrath and Franco Ambrosetti in the trumpet section, Dave Liebman on soprano sax and Danny Gottlieb on drums. The Concert Jazz Band has been a revolving door over the years -- soloists come and go -- but the outfit has long reflected Gruntz' recognizable post-bop personality, which asserts itself admirably well during a date that ranges from the Don Raye/Gene DePaul standard "You Don't Know What Love Is" (the album's only warhorse) to material by Liebman (the complex "Get Me Back to the Apple"), Walrath (the wistful "Hollow Wind/Passing Time"), Stamm (the Brazilian-flavored "Samba du Nancy") and Gruntz himself (who contributed four selections, including the contemplative "So If Love's a Triumph of Illusion" and the funky yet angular "So You Are"). The very modal opener "So: What (Serious Fun)" is also a Gruntz original, although it's a Gruntz original that, like John Coltrane's "Impressions," is clearly influenced by Miles Davis' "So What." Tiger by the Tail is a rewarding addition to Gruntz' sizable catalog.
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- Tcb Music
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