Western Reunion London 1965
The New Jazz Orchestra was formed in December 1963, its name reflecting both the youth of its members - their average age was only 23 - and their mission to perform the new kind of orchestral jazz that was then developing in America but still to be heard in Britain. The personnel included such (then) non-jazz instruments as flute, horn and tuba in addition to the standard brass, saxes and rhythm line-up of the big band. This is the NJO's first album, recorded in March 1965 before an invited audience to make the young band feel at ease.
In these early days, the orchestra's repertoire consisted almost entirely of arrangements of standard songs and jazz tunes. There were traditional big-band numbers as well as more orchestral pieces that made use of a wider range of tone colour allied to more complex harmony. There is only one original composition here, Neil Ardley's Shades of Blue, but some of the arrangements are beginning to explore composition; Western Reunion for example soon abandons the simple tune and develops it.
With Jon Hiseman at the helm, the NJO was remarkable at the time for its rhythm section - no other British large ensemble could swing like this. And every section contained great jazz soloists in the making already playing imaginative and well-constructed improvisations with tremendous drive and verve.
Tracks [Total time 44.00]
Big P ( Jimmy Heath) : Shades of Blue (Neil Ardley) : So What (Miles Davis arr Les Carter, Paul Rutherford) : If You Could See Me Now (Dameron, Sigman arr Lionel Grigson) : Tiny's Blues (T. & A.Kahn arr Dave Gelly) : Milestones (Miles Davis arr Les Carter) : Django (John Lewis arr Neil Ardley) : Maria (Bernstein, Sondheim arr Les Carter) : Western Reunion (Gerry Mulligan arr Neil Ardley)
Bob Leaper, Mike Phillipson, Tony Dudley, Ian Carr (trumpets & flugelhorn) : Mick Palmer ( French horn) : John Mumford, Paul Rutherford (trombones) : Peter Harvey (bass trombone) : Dick Hart (tuba) : Les Carter, Trevor Watts; Barbara Thompson, Dave Gelly, Tom Harris, Sebastian Freudenberg (woodwind, saxes) : Mike Barrett (piano) : Tony Reeves (bass) : Jon Hiseman (drums) : Neil Ardley (director)