Eyal Vilner Big Band is reviewed by Jazzweekly

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by George Harris

While not many big bands can afford to tour anymore, don’t let that discourage you, as these years there is a plethora of wonderful studio bands that are swinging, clever and filled with wonderful sounds for the ears.

Conductor, arranger and woodwind player Eyal Vilner takes things back to the era when Swing was King, but with some fresh atmospheres on this album of tunes from the 30s and 40s. The 16 member band shuffles hard to Brandon Lee’s trumpet on Vilner’s own big sounding “Downhill” while the muted brass section is as hip as Kim Kardashian on his “Going Uptown.” Guest vocalist Brianna Thomas coos to Ian Hutchison’s finger snapping bass on a sweet take of “In A Mellow Tone” and is coy alongside Jordan Piper’s striding piano on “My Baby Just Cares For Me” while belting out the sass on an oomphy “5-10-15 Hours” before tapping into her inner Mahalia Jackson for a dramatic spiritual of “I’m On My Way To Canaan Land.”  You get some clarinet reed rapture a la Benny Goodman on a sizzling “Big Apple Contest” whereas glowing starlit nights are evoked by Brandon Bain as he gives a bel canto vocal to “That’s All.” Vilnar hits all 8 cylinders with 92 octane on this burner.


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