The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band, The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful Review
by Nolan DeBuke
The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band is releasing a sophomore album called, The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful. The album has ten tracks comprised of compositions and arrangements ranging from the straight-ahead title track to the New Orleans Second-line “Mighty Dollar.” Overall, the music has its roots in the extensive ensemble writing of Quincy Jones, Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Cannonball Adderley, and Phil Woods. Benedict wrote four original compositions and created five arrangements. The theme that binds the recording is the big band music heard in 1970s T.V. and movie scores, and many of which were written by big-band jazz musicians like Quincy Jones and Pat Williams.
The well-known “Nardis” is a fine example of Benedict’s imaginative arranging skills. Instantly the feel changes and creative treatment of the melody shows how he hears in multiple styles and can convey those sounds through his writing. The band is terrific, as throughout the album, and the soloist is equally adept. With the combined elements of outstanding writing and playing, “Nardis” has all the details that lovers of the genre will not soon forget. The swing sections are very bouncy, and the funky areas are toe-tapping. Benedict’s alto saxophone solo also proves the man is equally as gifted as a player as he is a writer and arranger.
The straight-ahead swing title track, “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful,” is a tour de force of writing and orchestration based on the minor blues form and changes. The band is flawless in its synchronization and execution of the challenging ensemble passages, counterpoint, and hits. The soloists are Jeff Hellmer (piano), Paul McKee (trombone), Charlie Richard (baritone saxophone), Jeff Ellwood (tenor saxophone), and Dean Koba (drums). The saxophone section’s melodies are agile, while the trumpets and trombones add rhythmic punctuation and exciting power as they all combine to a climax. Benedict’s big band writing is balanced between ensemble sections and soloist sections, creating the best of both worlds.
The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful, has all the elements of an award-winning album with beautifully conceived, original arrangements and superior musicianship from a world-class big band. Once again, The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band delivers another marvelous album with The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful.