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4.2 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 6 reviews
on September 21, 2011
After the third time I listened to Ron Carter's "Great Big Band" CD, I finally decided to write these comments. The selection of tunes represents a good variety of styles: swing, blues, bop, and others that may surprise someone expecting the tradition "big band" sound. For me, the highlights include interesting versions of "Caravan," "Sweet Emma," "Footprints," and (my favorite) "The Golden Striker." The entire collection has a dual feel: the force and crispness of a stage band with the personal closeness and improvisational artistry of a jazz combo, while both supported by Ron Carter's reliable bass. At times, the band gets a bit brass-heavy, but it is able to back off with some memorable solo contrasts. The band also provides a few innovations to the big band sound: swinging the rhythm outside the conventional 4/4 arrangement, using an English horn and a flugelhorn in melody lines, creating a nonet effect from a piccolo bass, and combining brassy baroque-like passages with jazzy reeds. The result is a significantly different sound than one would expect from a collection of "big band" tunes, but one shouldn't be surprised as Ron Carter with his music director Robert Freedman has masterly pulled this off with flare and sparkle. The sound quality of this CD is excellent; the dynamics between the full ensemble and small group improvisations are very well balanced, the riffs and bridges are crisp and clear, and the soloists are never overwhelmed by the back-up fill-ins. I'm also glad to see that the tenor sax section includes Scott Robinson.
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on May 6, 2012
There are several recent really good recordings for Big Band fans like Straight Ahead by the Gran Canarias Big Band, Maiden Voyage Suite by the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, and for salsa fans El Legado by the Mayaguez Big Band.

This recording is also excellent and characterized by vibrant and very original arrangements. The music can be very brassy and powerful, but all of a sudden sound like an intimate jazz trio as in Pork Chop. Really enjoyed the contagious and happy swinging in Opus One, and Sweet Emma brings a joyous chorus from the brass section. As could be expected there are a number of excellent bass solos. Bass and drums solos start the Golden Striker before the entire band slowly comes in and the fades to go back to the bass and drums. The sound is excellent, enjoy full blast and bring down a couple of walls or with nice headphones.
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on December 17, 2014
My expectations were low, since Carter reportedly only did this because he'd already done "every [other] conceivable recording." But it's a home run - unpretentious, swinging, and fresh! The collection has a lot of variety and offers a new take on some familiar tunes. The collection of soloists is wonderful, again with a lot of variety. And at the core is the stellar rhythm section of Carter, Lewis Nash (what a great, tasteful drummer!), and Mulgrew Miller (one of my favorites). I can have a fine listening experience playing the album and only focusing on those three. So far, this is my favorite Ron Carter solo album (although I can't claim to have heard them all)!
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on January 26, 2013
I like a tight swinging band and this Band was about 90% there. I do not know if it was intentional or not but they just seemed to miss certain opportunities! It is a better than average CD.
If you listen to Sammy Nestico Big band you would really appreciate what this could have been with these charts!
Jim Paxton
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on March 30, 2013
Holy crap, this recording is dynamic! If you want a brass recording to test out your new speakers, this is the one. This is BIG BAND at its biggest. I haven't put it on a scope yet, but if you don't have a megawatt system that can handle this kind of power, step away from this disc. The music is fine too.
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