If you're recognizing that name, it might be you're recalling it as the first half of the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra (here). Well, this is still that ensemble, and Brent Wallarab is still a part of it, but, after five sterling releases, the two main exponents decided to one-man it one after the other as a chance to flex solo writing muscles (over and above the many great covers) and leadership. This time out, it's Mark Buselli; next time, it'll be Wallarab.
First of all, the band's still with Owl Records, so the recording's superlative, everything a big band could hope for in the way of crystal clear documentation and perfect balance. Then there are the many many solos and Kathleen Strutz's singing on almost half the songs…and thank the stars she waltzed in on the Jobim cut, bringing memories of Astrud Gilberto sharply into focus. That, however, is not her only playing card.
The track immediately following, Angel Eyes, is Harlem slinky and earthily sirenic, breathy and erotic. The band hunkers down along with her, restrained, slowing down the systole, damping the diastole, taking its time while bouncing up in the refrains to put the exclamation mark on her narrative. The other half of the cuts are instrumentals and letter perfect in their finessy lynchpinning of a sound all too readily disappearing in the culture, unbelievably spotless in each and every measure but also turning upwards in slowly evolving modernisms that don't disparage the root style.
Mark Buselli is obviously a heavyweight, and if the studios don't start hunting him down for soundtrack work, then more's the pity for we movie-goers. I can think of a dozen recent flicks that would've benefitted far more gracefully from this sound than from the friggin' hip hop and (c)rap otherwise touted. You already know the greats: Evans, Ferguson, Shaw, Severinson, etc.; now add Buselli and shortly Wallarab, when his leadership gig emerges…but really, given the past catalog of the two in tandem, they were already there.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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