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

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Game Changer

Capri 74124-2



1. Daahoud

2. Ana Maria

3. Stolen Moments

4. Speak Like a Child

5. Con Alma

6. Girl Talk

7. Pavane

8. Impressions

9. Sail Away

10. Li’l Darlin’

Marc Adler, Jamie Baum, Andrea Brachfeld, Richard Ford, Kris Keith, Billy Kerr, Jonathan Royce, Ali Ryerson, Stan Slotter – C flute, alto flute

Fernando Brandao, Paul Lieberman – C flute, alto flute, bass flute

Bob Chadwick, Donna Sevcovic – Bass flute

Zachary Kellogg – Piccolo, C flute

Rachel Rodgers – C flute

Keith Underwood – Bass flute, contrabass flute

Mark Levine – Piano

Rufus Reid – Bass

Akira Tana – Drums, percussion

Guest soloists

Holly Hofmann, Nestor Torres – C flute

Hubert Laws – Alto flute


A big band composed almost exclusively of flautists? The mind boggles, but the reality makes the concept not only bearable but remarkably exciting. The idea was the brainchild of Ali Ryerson, who as early as 2002 was organising bands consisting of multiple flutes plus a rhythm section to use in her master classes at seminars in California. The ensemble on this CD (hereinafter called the JFBB) was actually formed in 2005, although this is its first recording. The result is surprisingly successful. As the sleeve-note writer says: “the impression is not of a flute ensemble but a jazz ensemble”.

Several elements contribute to the success of this album. Skilful arrangers have devised ingenious charts to suit the line-up, so that the JFBB really sounds like a big band. The massed flutes are often reminiscent of the sax section of a big band – capable of warm harmonies as well as muscular solos. The CD is also helped by the judicious choice of tunes, which range from jazz standards to popular songs, plus a subtle interpretation of Fauré’s famous Pavane. And the punchy rhythm section ensures that there is no danger of a band of flutes sounding bland. Drummer Akira Tana is particularly helpful in filling gaps and thrusting the music along. Note, for example, his vigorous fills in John Coltrane’s Impressions.

All the musicians are clearly experienced and talented, with some fine solos along the way. Unfortunately, there is no listing of who solos when, so I cannot give the soloists their due. But one of the most winning tracks is Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments, which I believe has a solo by the impeccable Hubert Laws. At any rate, the ensembles are impressively precise.

You might fear that the sound of 16 people playing the flute could become shrill but the recording and mixing helps to keep the music easy on the ear. A big band composed almost exclusively of flautists? It’s not only possible but hugely enjoyable.

Tony Augarde

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