by Glenn Daniels
It can be tempting to think of big band music as a thing of the past, but the Eyal Vilner Big Band demonstrates that large ensemble sound is very much contemporary and capable of speaking in the modern vernacular on Swing Out. The production is a soulful, toe-tapping jam session from start to finish. Eyal Vilner, the brass and wind instrument-playing composer, conductor, and arranger of the unit assembles a first-rate collection of 18-member unit of musicians and solid material to make this effort truly hum. The band boasts the talents of, among others, trumpeters Michael Sailors, James Zollar and Brandon Lee, trombonists Robert Edwards and Mariel Bildsten, on saxophones and winds, Bill Todd, Jordan Pettay and Michael Hashim, joining Jordan Piper on piano, Ian Hutchinson on bass, and Eran Fink on drums. A band this strong benefits from the inclusion of the powerhouse vocals provided Brianna Thomas as well as those of Brandon Bain. This is clearly a labor of love and stellar work is the result.