JAZZ & BLUES MAGAZINE
THE SCOTT SILBERT BIG BAND
Introducing The Scott Silbert Big Band:
Scott Silbert was the chief arranger for the US Navy Band from 2002 until he retired in January 2017. He is currently the lead tenor saxophonist and an arranger with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, as well as leads his own small and big bands. This present recording, “Introducing The Scott Silbert Big Band: Jump Children,” mostly features lesser-known big band works from the 1930s and 1940s that he has transcribed and arranged.
There are 15 performances that are based on recordings by The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Jimmy Lunceford, Larr y Clinton, Duke Ellington, Sabby Lewis, Louis Jordan, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Erskine Hawkins, and Chick Webb, along with a Silbert original. Recorded at the Catholic University of America’s rehearsal hall, Silbert’s band includes a number of significant DC area artists, including alto saxophonists Charlie Young and Antonio Parker; baritone saxophonist Leigh Pilzer; trumpeter Chris Walker; trombonist Jen Krupa; bassist Amy Shook; and pianist Tony Nalker.
These are sharply played and concise performances that rarely exceed 3 minutes. Things kick off with “Jump Children” from the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. This number seems like the musical offspring of the Jay MacShann hit “Jumping the Blues,” with an amiable vocal by Gretchen Midgely and Grant Lanford’s booting tenor sax solo. Listening to the band handle Jimmy Lunceford’s “Annie Laurie” evoked Lunceford’s recording of “Margie.” The leader solos ably here, as does trombonist Jen Krupa.
Among other tracks here, I was impressed by renditions of a couple of songs from the Duke Ellington repertoire, “Jumping’ Punkins” and “Dusk.” Pianist Nalker and baritone saxophonist Pilzer shine on both, while Josh Kauffman reprises Rex Stewart on the latter number. I must confess the Ellington band’s recording of “Chloe” to the rendition here based on Harry James’ recording, but there are still outstanding solos from Kauffman, Pilzer, Langford, and Nalker.
The rest of this recording is similarly marvelously played by a tight well-rehearsed ensemble, ably bringing some classic swing era music to life.