I know, I know, I know: goddammit, Steely Dan's missing in action, and there ain't a damn thing we can do about it. Hellfire! But…wait a minute!…hold on!…what on Earth are those bold sweet sounds I'm hearing from over yonder New York way? Lord a'mighty, it's trumpet player Tony Kadleck and his Big Band, and if he ain't soul brother to Donald Fagen, then I'm a monkey's uncle. Tons and tons of big ensemble muscle here but in a theatrically rockified vein. Engineer Roy Hendrickson left in just enough down-lo to skirt the release around the back entrance rather than revel ceaselessly in the hi-toned stage presence Fagen so favored, thus you get a much more a nightclub-flavored recording than Broadway glitzorama.
Still, there's swank running throughout Around the Horn, creating an atmosphere that bridges our fathers' days into our own, reconciling what was once a generational war. Ever heard what happens when Larry Carlton and Lee Ritenour decide to rock out? Sweeter than sweet and gritty all rolled up into burning lead lines, and guitarist Pete McCann knows preeeeecisely what's what on that score, trotting the lead line out in Scofield's Green Tea. Kadleck's take on on Stevie Wonder's Creepin', however, very strongly calls back Steely Dan's Aja era, damn near a session left off the LP itself. Then there's Wonder's Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing, rolling Herb Alpert and Chuck Mangione into the mix.
Bernstein's One Hand, One Heart, though, introduces a mellifluous blend of ballad and light classicalism before starting to swing, interpolating other elements of West Wide Story in a blend of tones and flavors well charted, highly narrative, a 10:26 showcase of musical literacy. The background to that lies in Kadleck's years of sitting in with a bandwidth of high profile leaders—Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, Bob Mintzer, Maria Schneider, etc.—and the moving from readings of others' arrangements to scoring his own. In that, both his playing and scripting are way up to snuff, and the next time Fagen & Becker decide to hit the road, they can save themselves a lot of headaches and just pick up on this two-dozen ensemble, a band that can hit the ground running and sparkle.
And if you want to catch more of Tony's sessioneering, jump over to the City Boys Allstars Review (here), where he accompanied Lew Soloff and other luminaries. Hint: the above was Steely Dan, but now think Blues Brothers.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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