Artist: Greg Yasinitsky
Label: Yazz Recordings
The big band orchestra led by saxophonist Greg Yasinitsky celebrates the art of composing original works by employing the tools of bebop, blues, swing, and harmonic forms that make the assembly of horns blaze during poignant intervals. Yasinitsky’s latest effort Yazz Band features him accompanied by his orchestra. Inside the recording, the musicians exhibit the exuberance of free-thinking players; yet, the tracks are much more refined than an ad-hoc jam session. The collection is an example of American jazz, showing influences that marked decades of jazz from the 1930’s to the 21st century.
For listeners who have experienced the music of big bands from previous decades, Yasinitsky’s compositions will evoke those fond memories, pushing these recessed impressions to the surface. There are moments during the recording when the listener can recall the lofty climaxes of Guy Lombardo’s orchestra or the serpentine-like trails of the One O’Clock Lab Band based at the University of North Texas. The compositions contain textbook-style motifs, embellished by well-placed improvisations that soar and scroll squiggles along the tracks.
The moonlight ambience of “Missing You,” for instance, stands out in the program as the single moment when Yasinitsky’s saxophone is brought to the forefront, etching tuneful spirals and sinuous curves that hug the track. Other examples of the band’s ingenuity is the swinging vamp played Brian Ward on piano in “One Two Three,” and the fiery toots of Dave Glen’s and Al Gemberling’s trombones imprinting billowy treads across “Gator Tail.”
Many of the tracks were recorded in the Washington State University Recording Studio during three days in June 2017. A number of the compositions were commissioned, including for the 30th Anniversary of the British Columbia Interior Jazz Festival, the 25th Anniversary of the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, the Louisiana State University Jazz Band, University of Arkansas Jazz Band, and College of San Mateo Jazz Band.
Greg Yasinitsky—alto, tenor and baritone saxophones
Ann Marie Yasinitsky—flute
Vanessa Sielert—alto saxophone
Patrick Sheng—tenor saxophone
John Harbaugh—trumpet and flugelhorn
Vern Sielert—trumpet and flugelhorn
Jenny Kellogg—trombone and bass trombone
PJ Kelley—bass trombone
F. David Snider—bass