DAVID ANGEL — Out on the Coast (review)

DAVID ANGEL — Out on the Coast album cover Album · 2021 · Big Band Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
This week’s installment on jazz musicians who deserve more recognition goes to composer and arranger David Angel. As orchestrator Brad Dechter put it, “David Angel is quite possibly the best composer you have never heard of “. You may not know David by name, but you have probably heard his music in countless TV shows and movies including a long running gig on “Bonanza” that started when David was only 21. Along with his work as soundtrack composer and educator, David has also been running a big band rehearsal group out of Los Angeles since 1969. A remarkable number of big name artists have passed through that band including George Bohannon, Bud Shank, Bob Brookmeyer, Art Pepper, Victor Feldman and many more. Given how long Angel has been running this project it comes as a surprise that prior to this year Angel had only one album out as a leader. Long time associate and horn player Jim Self decided it was time to get more of Angel’s music out to the public so he organized this extensive recording project that resulted in the three CD, “Out on the Coast”.

David’s music is very west coast, with a typical track rolling along in a relaxed swing feel, but there is variety too with Latin numbers, waltzes, ballads and blues too. David’s forte is contrapuntal arranging in which intertwining voices twist around each other in kaleidoscope textures. These arrangements will often continue even while the soloists stretch out providing interesting tone colors to counter the solos. David cites French impressionists such as Ravel and Debussy as major influences, as well as early ‘cool’ proponents such as Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans, and of course the Duke.

Most of these tracks are David Angel originals with a few covers thrown in as well. Of the originals, some standouts include a Quincy Jones sounding bluesy jam session called “Ah Rite” and “Out on the Coast 3” on which the two flutes melody recalls kitsch TV soundtrack music from the 60s. There are also several lengthy suite like numbers on which David displays his ability to bring different moods to one piece of music. Of the covers, Ellington’s “Prelude to a Kiss” features alto saxophonist Gene Cipriano channeling Johnny Hodges to make this one really come alive with the spirit of the Duke’s long running band. Also from the Ellington repertoire we get French horn soloist Stephanie O’Keefe doing an excellent job on Billy Stray horn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing”.
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