You Better Watch Out!

October 1, 2017 | Comments Off on You Better Watch Out!

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To some, covers of traditional tunes may not strike an avant-garde note – but put down the figgy pudding – this is not your grandma’s Christmas album! Mike Treni’s familiar gems are serious music, serious fun, and sparkle with the pure joyous invention of rhythmic complexity, audacious instrumentation and daring modern harmonies.

Sadly, progressive big band music is often far from the public eye and history frequently overlooks the large ensembles of artists like Charles Mingus, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Clarke/Boland, Don Ellis, or Toshiko Akiyoshi. Treni’s compositions and arrangements have bravely flown the flag of large-ensemble jazz for more than 40 years. With his reverence for the Great American Songbook, liturgical music, and the gods of large and small ensemble jazz, Treni marries the progressive and the familiar. Certain to be admired by jazz aficionados, this collection deserves an audience among the general public as well.

Each tune is a mash-up of well-loved melodic hooks, indelible harmonic motifs, and evocative tonalities—Treni even makes literary associations from the unsung lyrics of his instrumental renditions. His multilayered creations cascade over the listener darting playfully around the edges of our collective memory. There is a dizzying quantum mechanics to Treni’s work: just as we begin to perceive it clearly, another innovation enters and demands attention. Unable to catch our breath or hold our footing we are compelled to listen again and again, each time with an ear for something new.

At the heart of Treni’s band-within-a-band style are pulsing trios and quartets that swell to full big band size and back. By doubling his sax men on soprano, flute, bass clarinet, clarinet, and even recorder Treni extends the traditional big band palette. Pairings with muted and full-voice trumpets, flugelhorn, alto flugelhorn, trombones, bass trombone and even overdrive guitar afford an infinite range of tonal colors. Each augmentation of the rhythm section premiers new solo or ensemble voices that glide in and out of, or rhythmically punctuate the melodic line. Even in down-tempo tunes, melody, sectional harmonies and counterpoint veer from section to section so quickly that it can be hard to pinpoint who is playing what. Perhaps this record should be called You Better Listen Up!

Use it as background to your holiday party if you must, but don’t be surprised if toes start tapping and the occasional guest grows quiet and stares off in a music-induced trance.

 

Wayne Nicolosi

 

The Music

 

The Band

Craig Yaremko – alto saxophone (lead), flute
Anton Denner – alto, soprano saxophones
Frank Elmo – tenor, soprano saxophones, clarinet
Rob Middleton – tenor saxophone, clarinet, recorder
Roy Nicolosi – alto, soprano, tenor, baritone saxophones,
clarinet, bass clarinet, flute
Michael Treni – trombone (lead 1, 6, 7, 8 & 9)
Scott Reeves – trombone, alto flugelhorn (lead 2, 4, & 5)
Jim Frye – trombone (lead 3)
Keith Marson – bass trombone
Kevin Bryan – trumpet (lead 2 – 9)
Chris Persad – trumpet
Vinne Cutro – trumpet (lead 1)
Ben Hankle – trumpet
Pete Hyde – trumpet
Bryan Smith – guitar
Jim Ridl – piano
Chris Berger – bass
Wayne Dunton – drums
Frank Valdés – percussion

Production Credits

Produced by Michael Treni and Roy S. Nicolosi
Arrangements by Michael Treni
Recorded April 29 & 30, 2017
Nicolosi Studios, Montvale, NJ
Recording and mixing engineer:
Bryan Smith
Mastered by:
Nathan James, The Vault Studios
Photos by Chris Drukker
CD Design by Ashley Treni

 

Recording © 2017 by Michael Treni