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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Los Angeles Jazz Ensemble


CD + DVD Kind of Blue 10021





  1. All Blues
  2. I Didnít Know What Time it Was
  3. Along Came Betty
  4. Blue in Green
  5. Expectation
  6. San Francisco Holiday
  7. I Got Lost in His Arms
  8. Why Do I love You
  9. This is New
  10. Sail Away
  11. Iíll Be Seeing You
  12. Whatever Possessed Me

Darek "Oles" Oleszkiewicz - Bass & Arrangements
Janis Siegel - Vocals
Alan Pasqua - B3 Hammond
Bob Sheppard - Saxophone
Larry Koonse - Guitar
Peter Erskine - Drums.

This is certainly my kind of record. Instead of filling their album with original compositions, never to be heard again, bass player Darek Oleszkiewicz selected mostly standards from the great jazz standard composers. One original Expectation was used, but it fits in well with the scheme of the record; contemporary composer Tom Harrell also had a composition Sail Away included and again it fits in nicely.

The overall feel of the band lets you know that they like to play together and each is a star in his own right. I am always afraid when I see that a Hammond Organ is on the gig that it will be used as a weapon instead of a musical instrument. Not so here Alan Pasqua plays the B3 in a very intelligent way so that is perfect both in accompaniment and when soloing. Bob Sheppardís tenor and soprano sax playing has an individual sound and style, I found it very appealing. Larry Koonse is without doubt one of the outstanding guitar players on todayís scene and his contribution to the album is significant. Drummer Peter Erskine has been around long enough to understand that his role in supporting the soloists is paramount if the band is to have a really good sound. Darek's playing puts him up with the greatest of bass players; he has a great sound, immaculate timing and he is a very talented improviser on an instrument which demands exceptional technical skill. Janis Sigel, a superb vocalist, completes the line up and makes a significant contribution to this exceptional album.

From the first track you know you are in for a treat, these guys are as contemporary as tomorrow but they swing like mad. My main criticism of most contemporary jazz is that it just does not swing, jazz without swing is no use to anyone and may not be jazz at all! Peter Erskine drives things on superbly throughout the album, without ever getting in the way of any of the soloists by playing with excessive volume. Bob Sheppard plays a wistful Soprano sax on this track.

Janis is to the fore with a version of I Didnít Know What Time it Was, which is different, but very appealing.

Along Came Betty, a Benny Golsen tune, is taken in 5/4 time and again the group stay with the original melody, but give the tune a different feel.

Blue in Green comes from the Davis-Evans stable and again the group make it sound good with a completely different feel to the Miles original.

Darek's original Expectation uses Janisís voice as an instrument to state the theme.

Thelonoius Monkís San Francisco Holiday is a hugely successful track, it features Bob and Larry to great effect, but as with everything on this album it is the ensemble that is the winner.

Janis contributes a fine version of I Got Lost in his Arms, taken as a gentle bossa. It was great to hear the rarely played verse of this Irving Berlin classic.

Why Do I Love You starts out in traditional style and tempo and demonstrates to perfection the art of improvisation on a well known standard, which leaves it feeling as fresh as a daisy.

Bob plays the theme statement on This is Knew and follows it with a solo full of conviction and invention. Tom Harrellís Sail Away follows, unusually it is the bass of Darek that states the theme, followed by Larry Koonse, the empathy between the two and for that matter the whole of the group is amazing.

Iíll Be Seeing You has a theme statement played first By Alan and then by Larry, it has all the gentle improvisation that a classic tune such as this requires.

Tad Dameronís Whatever Possessed Me brings Janis back to the fore and she delivers a song, that is not one of the easiest to sing, perfectly backed by some very musical chord work from Larry.

The package includes a DVD of the recording of songs 2,4,9 & 12. In conversation the musicians explain the philosophy of the session, I found it fascinating.

This album , which was recorded this year, has made me feel much more optimistic about the future of our great music. I recommend it without any reservation.

Don Mather


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