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New album from John Fedchock

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    Posted: 15 Nov 2018 at 7:55pm

REMINISCENCE, the newest CD by JOHN FEDCHOCK, will surely enhance his already stellar reputation as a trombone master. The CD is a follow-up to his 2015 release Fluidity. Fedchock culled tunes for both CDs from a live show he performed over three nights with his quartet in a club in Virginia Beach, VA, called Havana Nights. Although the club has since closed, it was a beautiful, intimate space that was acoustically designed for recording with state-of-the-art equipment.
Fedchock has a long and storied career. He began performing in 1980 with the legendary Woody Herman Orchestra. He toured with the "Thundering Herd" for seven years as the musical director and as featured soloist, and he was the musical coordinator and chief arranger for Herman's last two Grammy-nominated albums.
Based in New York City, Fedchock has established himself as one of the leading performers, writers, and arrangers in the city. His eponymous 16-piece John Fedchock New York Big Band comprises alumni from major big bands and some of the New York's top soloists. The Big Band has released five CDs on the MAMA and Reservoir Music labels that have enjoyed great success on national jazz radio charts, and Fedchock has received two GRAMMY nominations for "Best Instrumental Arranging." Fedchock also leads the John Fedchock NY Sextet, featured on the CD, Live at The Red Sea Jazz Festival. Dick Metcalf in Improvijazzation Nation said, "There is nothing glitzy or mystical about talent like this - it just shines right through."
Although he's garnered many accolades and awards for his larger ensembles, playing in a small club with just his quartet gives Fedchock and the band opportunities to stretch out and take chances. "Playing in this setting allows the players more of a chance to interact and create an intimate conversation through improvisation," says Fedchock. "It offers endless possibilities for making good music."
Fedchock has always maintained a heavy touring schedule, and he assembled the band for this CD using first-class sidemen he has worked with extensively over the years. One of these musicians enlisted was JOHN TOOMEY, a Virginia-based pianist who had been the musical director and keyboardist for Maynard Ferguson and also toured with Rene Marie, Mark Murphy, and the Uptown Jazz Quartet. Toomey has performed periodically with Fedchock for nearly 20 years and has remained Fedchock's first-call pianist whenever performing in the Mid-Atlantic region. Bassist JIMMY MASTERS is another of Fedchock's go-to musicians. Masters has performed with some of the top names in jazz, including Mulgrew Miller, Fred Hersch, Kenny Drew, Allen Farnham, Ellis Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut, to name just a few. Drummer DAVE RATAJCZAK was an old friend and colleague of Fedchock dating back to before their days together with Herman's Thundering Herd. One of the most sought-after jazz and studio drummers in the country, he appeared on every one of Fedchock's recordings to date. Sadly, Ratajczak succumbed to cancer not long after this performance.
Fedchock's tone is warm and perfectly articulated. He eschews mere pyrotechnics for a swinging lyricism. He updates standards with a 21st century feel through his solid, modern arrangements while still embracing the heritage and provenance of the music.
The CD comprises a mix of jazz standards and Fedchock originals. Fedchock released the first group of tunes from this session on Fluidity in 2015. "I had a lot of fun on this gig," Fedchock exclaims. "The entire group did, and I think you can hear that in the music. So I later revisited the music from the entire live recording session, and with the benefit of time and perspective, I came to the realization that the remaining tunes that didn't make the first recording really deserved their own release."
The CD opens with "The Third Degree," a Fedchock original, a tune he originally composed for his big band. The upbeat, medium swing feel belies the title, which Fedchock coined while suffering from tendonitis in his writing hand, feeling a subtle form of torture during the composition process.
"Loose Change" is an original Fedchock had been working on for a while but hadn't yet performed. "What better place to try an untested song but on a live recording," Fedchock comments humorously. "As it turned out, our first reading of the tune is what appears on this CD. This was the perfect time to debut the piece".
Fedchock pays homage to trombone legend J.J. Johnson on "Lament," a tune written by Johnson. It's usually played as a straight ballad, but Fedchock re-imagines the number with a gentle Latin feel.
Fedchock made a subtle change to "The End of a Love Affair," a well-known standard, by doubling its measures, effectively lengthening the song's form. He then counteracts the added length by applying a brisk up-tempo feel, creating an exciting vehicle with a relaxed, carefree character.
Two other well-known standards, "You're My Everything" and "If You Can See Me Now" showcase Fedchock's seasoned phrasing. The CD wraps up with another Fedchock original, "Brazilian Fantasy" featuring Billy Williams on drums. The tune was recorded in the same club the year prior, and Fedchock knew it would fit perfectly on this CD to round out the program.
Fedchock is a sophisticated, sensitive trombonist, arranger, and composer. There are many exciting moments on REMINISCENCE, and the performances by all the musicians are outstanding. This CD is not merely a follow-up to Fluidity but a project that stands on its own. It is a superb example of the magic that great jazz artists can conjure when all the stars align.
REMINISCENCE is available in stores and online everywhere.

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