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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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STEVE HUFFSTETER BIG BAND

Gathered Around

AIX Records AIX 80026

 

 


1. Moacir
2. Circles
3. Nightwalk
4. The Quest
5. 3 ½
6. Autumn Returns
7. Fool’s Silver
8. A Waltz and Battery

Steve Huffsteter - Leader, composer, arranger, trumpet, flugelhorn, piano
Kim Richmond, Bill Perkins, Jerry Pinter, Doug Webb, Jim Cowger - Reeds
Mike McGuffey, Lee Thornburg, Larry McGuire, Buddy Childers, Jack Feierman - Trumpets
Jack Redmond, Jock Ellis, Les Benedict, Morris Repass - Trombones
Jamie Findlay – Guitar
Mark Massey – Piano
Kevin Axt – Bass
Dave Tull – Drums
D. Huffsteter – Percussion

 

All the music is the work of the leader, who composed and arranged all the tunes and plays many of the jazz solos. Steve has worked with the bands of Bob Florence, Toshiko Akiyoshi and many others. He claims to be a self-taught musician and all I can say to that is that he taught himself very well!

As can be seen from the line-up, this is an all-star band from the area of LA. The cover lists the names of Bill Perkins, Lee Thornburg, Buddy Childers and Jock Ellis, but all these musicians have worked with the very best and they are the very best.

Because all the tunes are Huffsteter originals, I needed to play the DVD a few times to become more familiar with what was going on and, the more I listened, the more I liked the music. The soloists are all superb and, as always, Bill Perkins led the way on soprano. Unfortunately Bill died in the year (2003) that this DVD was made. He is a great loss to the jazz world.

The rhythm section propels things along beautifully. The only band I heard previously in which the rhythm section sounded really comfortable with piano and guitar was the one led by Bill Basie, but Jamie Findlay and Mark Massey don’t get in each other's way and Kevin Axt on bass and Dave Tull on drums do a great job throughout.

A Waltz and Battery contains a wonderfully melodic trombone solo and the tenor solo is of the same calibre. As I have said earlier however, every soloist on the whole record delivers the goods on each and every solo. There are obviously no second-choice men here!

Kim Richmond worked with Stan Kenton and solos on The Quest. Gerry Pinter worked with Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson, and he solos on Moacir. Buddy Childers has played with everybody; he is one of the greatest big-band trumpet players.

Most of the trumpet solos are played by Steve and he acquits himself well on each occasion. The beauty of the DVD is that you can see the joy of the performance on the faces of all the musicians taking part!

I recommend this DVD without reservation. As with other AIX releases there are two sides to the disc: DVD–Video and DVD-Audio.

Don Mather



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