by Tom Haugen
Flying Horse, 2020
The Flying Horse Big Band return with a 7th album, where they rework classic tunes from Ray Charles and others and bring in guest artists like Rob Paparozzi, Vence Villastrigo, DaVonda Simmons and Khristian Dentley to the party.
“One Mint Julep” starts the listen with bright brass, frisky percussion and a bouncy setting of highly rhythmic jazz that benefits much from Ryan Devin’s tenor solo, and “Let The Good Times Roll” follows with a busy display of festive sounds where soaring vocals from Paparozzi enter the stylish atmosphere.
Further along, “Lonely Avenue” brings a soulful delivery from Simmons to the dynamic musicianship along with playful backing vocals and a trombone solo from Jeremiah St. John, while “What’d I Say” moves with a big band influence as rowdy horns mesh well with Simmons’ seasoned pipes. ”Watermelon Man”, an album highlight, then recruits spirited guitar work alongside plenty of grooves and excellent percussion by Marty Morell.
“Busted” and “Unchain My Heart” finish the listen, as the former showcases Paparozzi’s vocal acrobatics, and the latter gets busy with Villastrigo’s singing highlighting the precise execution.
Jeff Rupert leads the 18 piece band here, and he navigates the ensemble in and out of glorious textures and incredible song craft that would make anyone a fan out of Ray Charles, if for some reason you weren’t already.