Music Professor Bill Warfield’s Jazz Album Getting Stellar Reviews

Trumpet StoryAn associate professor of music and director of jazz studies at Lehigh University has a new album out that’s been getting great reviews. Bill Warfield’s “Trumpet Story” was released last July and has been doing very well in the Jazz album charts. You can hear a few tracks on his Reverb Nation profile here.

Or, if you want to listen to the album live, you could hear the CD release party at the Iridium in New York City on September 24, at 8PM. Randy Brecker will be joining the group for this event. Or, if you can’t wait to hear Bill perform, he will be performing with the New York Jazz Octet at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA this Saturday August 30th at 7:30pm. Come to think of it, that sounds like a lovely holiday weekend get away.

In the music business, reviews are highly valued. We appreciate all of the journalists who support jazz music. For an academic musician who composes, performs and records, music reviews are the peer view journal of their research. Consider this post a celebration of Lehigh University Jazz Professor Bill Warfield’s artistic, musical and academic success. (All of the reviews below are linked to the original source for reference.)

So what are the Jazz Critics saying? Here’s a list:

Buffalo News – Jeff Simon
Because Randy Brecker is dealing with the orchestra of his friend, arranger and trumpet player Bill Warfield (a jazz academic from Lehigh University), there is a good deal of variation in sonority, from the brass richness of Warfield’s version of Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child” to the dark, brooding muted textures and Stravinskyish carnival dancing of Warfield’s “In the Land of Chad and Barbie,” the disc is never uninteresting for very long. It gives Randy Brecker opportunities to do some of his most interesting playing on disc in quite a while. Other soloists besides Brecker include guitarist Vic Jurist, always a pleasure in any context.

Midwest Record – Chris Spector
PLANET ARTS- BILL WARFIELD BIG BAND featuring Randy Brecker/Trumpet Story: A boomer that grew up on all the same stuff as the rest of us but knows how to play a mean trumpet decides to pay musical tribute to all the trumpet players that inspired him. Once again we find that arts council music is no longer sounding like arts council music. A swinging date loaded with originals that hit the mark, Warfield even brings in Randy Brecker to blow a few notes, and he’s one of the cats Warfield is paying tribute to. Edgy big band stuff, it’s high water mark sitting down jazz that’s an unabashed roller coaster ride for your ears. You can feel all the care that went into all facets of the execution from concept to finish and listening to this kind of detail is a real treat. Check it out.

Straight No Chaser (blogcritics.org)
With his participation in the Bill Warfield Big Band’s Trumpet Story, the legendary trumpeter Randy Brecker continues a series of fine guest recordings with large ensembles. Since his Grammy winning Randy in Brasil CD in 2008, he has continually made recordings with ensembles as varied as the Danish Radio Big Band and The Danish National Chamber Orchestra (The Jazz Ballad Book); the Kalisz Philharmonic Orchestra (Night in Calisia, also a Grammy winner); and Chuck Owen’s Big Band Jazz Surge (The Comet’s Tail – Performing the Compositions of Michael Brecker).

Brecker’s 
playing 
has 
been 
a 
major 
influence
 on 
the 
work 
of 
fellow 
trumpeter/composer
 Bill
 Warfield.

Brecker 
first 
collaborated
 with 
Warfield
 on 
a 
Sketches
 of
 Spain
 concert
 at 
Lehigh 
University, 
where
 Warfield is an Associate Professor of Music and directs the jazz studies program. Since then, whenever Warfield considered working on a large scale tribute to his favorite trumpet players, he always heard Brecker in his head.

The project, a four-part suite, morphed into Trumpet Story, a Big Band recording of four Warfield pieces, a Brecker tune (“Sponge”) and arrangements of songs that influenced Warfield over the years, including “Speak Like a Child” and “Pharoah’s Dance”. Brecker shines throughout, especially on Warfield’s funky “When Janie Takes the Stand.” As always, Brecker can play with the bombast needed for a a Big Band soloist, yet with the undeniable lyricism that has made his versions of Brazilian tunes so plaintive and seductive. For me, the highlights come on the soloing on “Sponge”, as Brecker lays it down, and Mark Phaneuf’s tenor sax and Sam Burtis’ trombone answer the challenge.

Music Review: The Bill Warfield Big Band Featuring Randy Brecker – ‘Trumpet Story’ (by Jack Goodstein)
Review Overview Summary :Randy Brecker and Bill Warfield make a combination that’s hard to beat.

As Neil Tesser’s liner notes explain, the original idea behind Trumpet Story – the new album from The Bill Warfield Big Band – was to celebrate the trumpet by “writing a suite of big-band compositions for trumpet soloist” focusing on the contributions of icons of the instrument. Warfield, a fine trumpeter in his own right, decided that rather than taking the lead himself he would write for a different trumpeter, one he had worked with before and whose talents were legend: Randy Brecker.

While originally a four-movement suite, the current album grew into something a bit different, celebrating not only the trumpet but a whole range of Warfield’s musical influences. Three of the suite’s original sections are retained, and a selection of compositions by some of these other influences arranged by Warfield fills out the disc. While the focus is still on the trumpet, the current arrangements try to set the instrument in a broader musical context.

The album opens with the funky “When Janie Takes the Stand,” an edgy piece that resurfaces again to close the set in an (edited) airplay track. Brecker’s solo work is complemented by solos from Vic Juris on guitar and Tim Sessions on trombone. Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child,” a splendidly lyrical piece which appropriately features pianist Mike Eckroth, follows. The piano, now played by Art Hirahara, introduces Warfield’s beautiful “A Window That Shows Me the Moon.”

“Theme for Malcolm” is a Donald Brown composition with some sweet solo work from Brecker and Mike Migliore on the alto sax. Warfield himself does the solo work on Philip Sparke’s “Flowerdale,” a mood ballad with some majestic passages. Brecker’s “Sponge” gives some idea of the trumpeter’s compositional skills. Two more pieces by Warfield, “Carol,” written for his wife, and the haunting “In the Land of Chad and Barbie,” plus a 16-minute take on Joe Zawinul’s “Pharaoh’s Dance” round out the album. Trumpet Story is big band music at its finest. Randy Brecker and Bill Warfield make a combination that’s hard to beat.

The Bill Warfield Big Band Featuring Randy Brecker Trumpet Story PAN 2014 by Brent Black
The Bill Warfield Big Band takes a look at the great Randy Brecker and is a triumph!

Actually…Trumpet Story goes slightly back to the future paying homage to other inspirations including Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinful, Donald Byrd and of course Randy Brecker. The achilles heel of big band is the automatic assumption of predictable. Trumpet Story moves past the accepted norm with variety ranging from a brilliant arrangement of Hancock’s “Speak Like A Child” to the slightly more unexpected conceptual nature of the original performance suite which was to be geared around Brecker’s ability to become that elusive harmonic chameleon as style would dictate.

Other notables include the incredibly overlooked pianist Art Hiahara on the Warfield original “A Window That Shows Me The Moon.” The deceptively subtle nuanced textures from which Brecker seems to favor take what might otherwise be a better than average big band release and elevate this collective to that special place long missing from the much maligned genre. Bill Warfield’s compositions and arrangements highlight that at times there is little doubt simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

The 
”Trumpet 
Story” 
Story
With his participation in the Bill Warfield Big Band’s Trumpet Story, the legendary trumpeter Randy Brecker continues a series of fine guest recordings with large ensembles. Since his Grammy winning Randy in Brasil CD in 2008, he has continually made recordings with ensembles as varied as the Danish Radio Big Band and The Danish National Chamber Orchestra (The Jazz Ballad Book); the Kalisz Philharmonic Orchestra (Night in Calisia, also a Grammy winner); and Chuck Owen’s Big Band Jazz Surge (The Comet’s Tail – Performing the Compositions of Michael Brecker).  

Brecker’s playing has been a major influence on the work of fellow trumpeter/composer Bill Warfield. Brecker first collaborated with Warfield on a Sketches of Spain concert at Lehigh University, where Warfield is an Associate Professor of Music and directs the jazz studies program. Since then, whenever Warfield considered working on a large scale tribute to his favorite trumpet players, he always heard Brecker in his head.

The project, a four-part suite, morphed into Trumpet Story, a Big Band recording of four Warfield pieces, a Brecker tune (“Sponge”) and arrangements of songs that influenced Warfield over the years, including “Speak Like a Child” and “Pharoah’s Dance.” Brecker shines throughout, especially on Warfield’s funky “When Janie Takes the Stand.” As always, Brecker can play with the bombast needed for a a Big Band soloist, yet with the undeniable lyricism that has made his versions of Brazilian tunes so plaintive and seductive.  For me, the highlights come on the soloing on “Sponge”, as Brecker lays it down, and Mark Phaneuf’s tenor sax and Sam Burtis’ trombone answer the challenge.

All
*About*
Jazz
 – Bill Warfield Big Band: Trumpet Story (2014) reviewed by Jack Bowers
Trumpeters Bill Warfield and Randy Brecker have been friends for twenty years; it’s high time they joined forces in a recording studio and began making beautiful music together. On Trumpet Story, Warfield’s big-band homage to trumpeters and other musicians who have influenced him through the years, six-time Grammy Award winner Brecker solos on eight of ten numbers, several of which were written by Warfield with him in mind. The result is what Joe Listener might expect—uniformly high- caliber jazz tastefully articulated by Brecker’s all- purpose trumpet / flugelhorn and suitably amplified by Warfield’s A-list ensemble and perceptive charts.

This is not, as one might reasonably expect from its name, an anthology of jazz trumpet from New Orleans to the present day but rather an invariably contemporary enterprise with bows not only toward a number of eminent trumpeters but to such notable composers as Herbie Hancock, Donald Brown, Joe Zawinul and Philip Sparke. Warfield, who solos handsomely on Sparke’s easygoing “Flowerdale,” arranged every number and wrote four: “When Janie Takes the Stand,” “A Window That Shows Me the Moon,” “In the Land of Chad and Barbie” and the winsome ballad “Carol” (for his wife). Brecker, for his part, composed the squishy “Sponge.” A slightly abbreviated airplay version of “Janie” closes the album.

Besides Brecker, who is always in sync, the band’s able soloists include guitarist Vic Juris (“Jamie,” “Chad and Barbie,” Zawinul’s provocative “Pharaoh’s Dance”), trombonist Tim Sessions (“Jamie”), bass trombonist Sam Burtis (“Sponge”), pianists Mike Eckroth (Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child”) and Art Hirahara (“Window”), alto Mike Migliore (Brown’s charming “Theme for Malcolm”), tenors Mark Phaneuf (“Sponge,” “Chad and Barbie”) and Dave Riekenberg (“Carol”) and baritone Matt Hong (“Pharaoh’s Dance”). As every member of the ensemble is a seasoned pro whose unwavering focus is on the task at hand, there is no cause to single out or censure anyone.

In sum, a splendid enterprise from start to finish. If there is a downside, it may be that Warfield now and again leans a tad too heavily on rock beats (“Jamie,” “Sponge,” “Pharaoh’s Dance”) but that is purely a matter of personal taste, certainly nothing to give rise to any equivocation or concern.

Brecker, Warfield offer a brassy ‘Trumpet Story’ By The Tribune-Review Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 by Bob Karlovits
Trumpeter Randy Brecker is indeed the story behind this album. It has been a busy year for the brass star, and he continues it on the Bill Warfield Big Band’s “Trumpet Story.” Being the guest on a number of recent albums, Brecker provides a top-notch voice to the band and its offerings. The tunes include Warfield originals, Brecker’s “Sponge,” Herbie Hancock’s “Speak Like a Child,” Joe Zawinul’s “Pharoah’s Dance” and even “Flowerdale” from British brass-band specialist Phillip Sparke. Although the band is of traditional size and instrumentation, Warfield’s arrangements give it a brassier sound that fits in well around Brecker’s powerful trumpet voice. The other part of this story is Warfield’s own work on the trumpet. He takes the lead on the Sparke piece and gives it power and precision. His arrangement also is an excellent big-band version of that brass-band composition.

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