Dameronia’s Legacy All-Stars – Live at Audi Forum Ingolstadt
(Ubuntu Music UBU0113CD. Album review by Bruce Lindsay)
In tribute to composer, musician and arranger Tadd Dameron, “Dameronia” has been adopted as a band name by Philly Joe Jones and Don Sickler, and as the title of Paul Combs’s Dameron biography. Dameron himself used it as the title of both a composition and an album. Now along comes the Dameronia’s Legacy All-Stars, an international octet devoted to performing Dameron’s original arrangements.
The band features musicians from Austria (leader and drummer Bernd Reiter, trombonist Johannes Herrlich), France (tenor saxophonist Jon Boutellier), the Netherlands (baritone saxophonist Rik van den Bergh), Italy (bassist Aldo Zunino and pianist Andrea Pozza) and the USA (trumpeter Jim Rotondi and altoist Dick Oatts). Oatts and Rotondi are probably the best-known players on this album, but every member of the band is a top-level player, taking solo and ensemble duties with aplomb.
Whenever any recording or performance takes place it always helps to start with top-quality source material and this record certainly has it: seven Dameron compositions plus Victor Young’s “My Foolish Heart” and Charles Mingus’s “Portrait.” The arrangements are all Dameron’s, written for big bands led by Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Eckstine. They range from the cool swing of “Flossie Lou” to the calmer, more laid-back, mood of “If You Could See Me Now.” “On a Misty Night” is more uptempo and upbeat than the version Dameron recorded with John Coltrane, John Simmonds and Jones. It also features Pozza’s small but emphatic piano interjections that are immediately amusing and joyous.
This is, as the title suggests, a live album, recorded at the Audi Forum on 14 October 2021 at the end of a two-week tour. The sound is crisp and clear and the previous fortnight of performances has helped to bring the musicians together both as a tight ensemble and as a collection of soloists: the bass and sax solos on “If You Could See Me Now,” are notable examples of the players’ ability to craft solos that beautifully capture the emotion of a tune. Reiter takes the spotlight on track four, soloing on the introduction and again with a powerful and inventive extended workout after fiery contributions from the horn players: a fitting number on which to do so, given that the track is “Philly J. J.” Mingus’s “Portrait” is the album’s final track. It’s far shorter than the others, at just shy of three minutes, but it’s a gentle and romantic tune with which to bring proceedings to a close, with Pozza’s piano sounding almost harp-like at times.
Dameronia’s Legacy All-Stars is the result of Reiter’s long-standing desire to perform Dameron’s music. In bringing this desire to fruition the drummer, indeed the entire octet, has produced a welcome and pleasurable reminder of Dameron’s talent and creativity.
Categories: Album review