Rich Willey’s Boptism Big Band is reviewed by Jazzweekly

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by George Harris

Rich Willey not only leads this 18+ member big band, but he plays trumpet, flugelhorn and bass trumpet as well. He raids the closet of Big Phat Band leader Gordon Goodwin, employing Jeff Driskill, Sal Lozano, Brian Scanlon, Wayne Bergeron, Andy Martin, Andrew Synowiec and even Goodwin himself for his charts and blowing on this swinging session. Throw drummer Peter Erskine and tenor saxist Bob Sheppard into the mix, and you get a smoking session of mind bending section work and sizzling solos.

Goodwin’s arrangements include a hip reggae pulse for Willey’s horn on the cooking “Boogie Beast” as well as on “Not So Fast” that has the leader teamed with some synth work by Wally Minko. A soulful “Ed Zachry Meets Gregory Peccary” features CTI-ish keys by Minko as well as BPB solos by trombonist Martin and tenor saxist Sal Lozano, and Sheppard blows hard on the rockish “Funk Heap” that includes Synowiec’s searing axe. Willey’s bass horn solo on a lush “Old Folks” puts some new wine in an old bottle, making this album a balm from Gilead. Definitely check this one out-it’s a Boptism by fire!


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