April, for those who might not know, is Jazz Appreciation Month. One of the great true American forms of music, jazz transcends generations and cultural boundaries. As part of the celebration of the month, The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note has released its 2022 Jazz Heritage Series recording. Featuring performances this year from guest musicians Sean Jones, Ted Nash, and Diane Schur, the recording is a fully immersive, engaging and entertaining presentation that any jazz and big band fan will fully enjoy. Each guest musician gets three songs here. There is also one song on which the trio come together to perform with the bigger group, and one song performed by the Airmen of Note. Among the most notable of the songs featuring Jones is ‘Into The Sun.’ It will be examined shortly. ‘Tones For Joan’s Bones,’ which features Nash as the guest musician, is a prime example of how much he brings to the overall presentation. It will be discussed a little later. The trio’s performance of the timeless classic ‘Besame Mucho’ is yet another example of what this year’s Jazz Heritage Series has to offer. When the noted performances are considered along with the others featured in this record, the whole makes The 2022 Jazz Heritage Series one more of the best of this year’s new jazz albums.
The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note’s 2022 Jazz Heritage Series presentation is another successful offering from the group. That is due to the arrangements featured throughout the record. One of the most notable of the performances comes from guest trumpet player Sean Jones in the song, ‘Into The Sun.’ While Jones serves as the guest musician in this song, it is not him, but saxophonist Senior Master Sgt. Grant Langford who really is the star. Langford’s chops as he blows through his solo are on full display, giving the song so much fire. Meanwhile, the building energy that Jones brings to the song through his performance adds its own share of engagement and entertainment. At times, the staccato style playing and at others more legato in nature, Jones’ performance brings so much brightness to the mix. Of course the pair’s fellow musicians here cannot be ignored. Technical Sgt. Ben Thomas deserves his own praise as he provides such a rich low end to the arrangement. Master Sgt. David McDonald also brings some spice to the mix with his subtle fills and solid time keeping. The horns also add their own positive element to the whole. The whole gives the arrangement in this case such an infectious groove that when combined with the group’s big band sound, makes for even more enjoyment. It all comes together to make the song just one example of what makes this latest collection from the United States Air Force Jazz Band Airmen of Note so enjoyable. It is just one of the most enjoyable moments from the recording, too. The group’s performance of ‘Tones For Joan’s Bones,’ which features a guest appearance from saxophonist Ted Nash, is another standout moment in the record.
The collective’s performance of ‘Tones For Joan’s Bones’ stands out right from the intro with its steady drum beat and pairing of the flute and horns. The presentation in those opening bars conjures thoughts of Duke Ellington’s timeless classic, ‘Caravan.’ From there, the song progresses in its own unique fashion going from reserved and contemplative to much more classic swing. Nash shines in his John Coletrane-esque performance here while Technical Sgt. Chris Ziemba joins with Thomas and McDonald to make for a solid rhythm section performance. The group’s performance against the more big band sounds from the horns makes for such a unique contrast that works surprisingly well. Master Sgt. Kevin Cerovich cannot be ignored here either, as he works his way through his trombone solo. The richness that his performance brings to the whole makes the song all the more engaging and entertaining. The difference between this performance of the song and that of its source material (the Chick Corea original) is notable, but at the same time, it is clear that the group strives to stay as close as possible to the source material, making for even more appeal. It is just one more example of why this latest offering from the Airmen of Note is enjoyable. The collective performance of ‘Besame Mucho’ from Nash, Jones, and fellow guest performer Diane Schuur is yet another standout addition to the recording.
The trio’s performance of ‘Besame Mucho’ alongside the Airmen of Note because of how starkly it stands out from other covers of the Consuelo Velazquez work and from the original. Schuur’s vocal delivery is so rich and powerful and so controlled at the same time. The point/counterpoint from Nash and Jones alongside Thomas and McDonald’s work on bass and drums makes their collective performances just as enjoyable as those as Schuur and the rest of the organization. It makes for a wonderful final accent to the recording and yet another enjoyable entry in the overall presentation. When it is considered along with the other performances examined here and with the rest of the featured songs and performances, the whole makes The 2022 Jazz Heritage Series another completely successful offering from the Airmen of Note and the United State Air Force Jazz Band.
The United States Air Force Jazz Band Airmen of Note’s 2022 Jazz Heritage Series presentation is another fully engaging and entertaining offering from the group. From start to end, it offers so much for audiences to appreciate in each featured performance. Each of the songs examined make the clear. When the songs examined are considered along with the rest of the recording’s featured performances, the whole makes this latest offering from the group another of the year’s top new jazz albums.
More information on the 2022 Jazz Herittage Series is available along with all of the latest news from the United States Air Force Jazz Band Airmen of Note at:
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