(4 / 5)
If it is big band music at its finest you are after, then look no further than the fifth album release from the exciting US 18-piece, The Bicoastal Collective.
Since joining forces in 2008, trumpeter Paul Tynan and baritone saxophonist Aaron Lington have recorded a series of acclaimed albums ranging in instrumentation from tentet to sextet, and a quintet featuring a Hammond B-3 organist.
“Chapter Five” is their fifth album and the first with a full 18-piece big band, adding a sumptuous new volume to the duo’s impressive discography. The pair share writing and arranging credits on this and on their previous output.
Each contributed four compositions here, and they deliver a highly original take on the trumpet-baritone frontline tradition pioneered by the jazz greats who inspired them, such as Thad Jones-Pepper Adams and Chet Baker-Gerry Mulligan.
The name Bicoastal Collective comes from the fact the pair live on opposite sides of North America, but have remained friends over the decades since meeting at University of North Texas, where both began work on their Master’s degrees in 1998. Both also played in the ‘One O’Cock Lab’ band, a year apart.
Tynan lives in Nova Scotia where he is a Professor at St Francis Xavier University, while Lington is Coordinator of Jazz Studies at San Jose State University in California. They began recording together when they were both in San Jose in 2008, and on Lington’s recommendation, Tynan spent a sabbatical year teaching at San Jose State and Chabot College, and playing around Northern California with the likes of Poncho Sanchez, Keely Smith and Lington.
The two day sessions for Chapter Five were arranged for a mid-continental point of Dallas, in July of 2016, with 16 hand-picked players. A lot of the players are people the pair went to school with, best friends or people they had worked with in the past.
The styles on “Chapter Five” range from the extremely swinging “Two Views,” the hypnotic groove of “I Remember Every Day”, “Charting Stars” showcasing Tynan’s warm flugelhorn solos and David Lown’s soulful tenor saxophone. The sweet ballad, “Karma’s Song”, shines the spotlight on Lington’s skilful, rich and at times, biting baritone sax work. Drummer Stockton Helbing is on his game on Tynan’s pacey “More Than Just a Single Road.”
Mr Lington played tenor sax for rock and roll legend Bo Diddley on a few tours, while he was doing undergraduate work at the University of Houston. His charts have been performed by the Maynard Ferguson Big Bop Noveau Band, The Count Basie Orchestra and by the Pacific Mambo Orchestra of which he is a member. Four of the numbers on the 19-member Mambo Orchestra’s 2014 Grammy-winning debut album were arranged by Lington.
On “Chapter Five”, his funky groove-soaked “Sup?” is a standout, with Ken Edwards on trumpet and trombonist Carl Lundgren sprinkling some magic dust on proceedings. The highlight for many will be “Four Taiwanese Folk Melodies”, a lengthy outing at just over 15 minutes in duration.
Both Tynan and Lington, now in their 40s, are formidable musicians, composers, arrangers and band leaders, and have pulled off a wonderful feat here with this world class ensemble and their musical wares. No fat; the arrangements tight as tight can be and the energy never dips. Plenty of light and shade between the pacier tunes and the slower numbers too. A measured and well thought out set.
They are already planning their next move; a trumpet-baritone-bass and drums set with no pianist, using the same instrumentation as Gerry Mulligan’s famous piano-less quartet, but with their own twist on it. But for now, the eight tracks and the one hour, five minutes and 19 seconds of music on “Chapter Five” is the main focus – a refreshing big band album that truly deserves widespread attention.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’