|Cool jazz. Images of the early days on the West Coast when new ideas, harmonies, ensemble playing and great improvisation were all happening. Recreating and updating that experience is the mission of Octobop. Performing and promoting the music that began with The Birth of the Cool -- and the innovations of Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, Dave Pell, Jimmy Guiffre, and Howard Rumsey among others -- Octobop makes cool jazz hot again.
With the introduction of Octobop's new CD, "Night Lights," leader Geoff Roach again leads his octet through a classy set of tunes that everyone will enjoy. The band has a full new sound with even better balance than on their first CD. It's a fresh approach to modern classic jazz. You won't be disappointed.
Most of the great arrangements were by Roach himself. "Girl Talk," textured and tasty, is a masterpiece. It's hard to believe that this old song could be so fresh once again.
Randy Smith on trumpet and flugelhorn contributes splendidly to the new sound. "Blue Mist" sparkles with Darrell Jefferson's muted trombone and Roach's bass sax. Vocalist Nancy Gilliland does a masterful job on the title track, a Gerry Mulligan composition.
Over 50 minutes of great music. It's what jazz is all about. It's a winner.
-- Alan Scharf; co-creator of "Jazz at Massey Hall."