Jill Townsend Big Band’s Legacy: The Music of Ross Taggart is a loving tribute
by Alexander Varty on October 28th, 2015
“Every other CD that comes this way is billed as a labour of love—and, given the grim economic realities of the modern music industry, that’s probably just about right. But love, as a tangible presence, is rarely as clearly felt as it is on this new CD, which glows almost from beginning to end.
I’m qualifying that statement because Legacy’s two opening numbers, “Don’t Call Before 10” and “Light at the End of the Tunnel”, make for a deceptively low-key way to kick things off, being more cool and polite than emotionally fervid. But things pick up from there as the musicians warm to the task at hand—honouring the music and memory of the late saxophonist, pianist, and bandleader Ross Taggart.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of threads of connection run through this album. For one, Taggart played tenor sax in trombonist Jill Townsend’s band for more than a decade; for another, the first release on saxophonist Cory Weeds’s prolific Cellar Live label was a Taggart quartet date. A witty, somewhat larger-than-life presence, the musician has been widely missed since his death from renal cancer in 2013.
Here, though, the mourning stops and the celebration begins shortly after the last poignant chords of “Tunnel” fade into silence. “T.V. Lunch” packs boisterous bebop swagger and sets the tone for the rest of the disc. It’s not hard to imagine the musicians swapping Taggart stories between takes, and smiles have most definitely replaced tears by the time the assembled players swing into the paradoxically cheerful “B.B.’s Blue Blues”.
For some, giving Taggart the last word—via his solo piano rendition of a tune he wrote for Townsend, “Apple Cider Vinegar”—might start the waterworks flowing again. Still, it feels good to hang out with Ross, and 18 of his best friends, for one last time”.
Posted by Cellar Live:
Hello all, well it would appear that this 18+ month project is coming to a close. We sent the CD away to the manufacturing plant and will have it back for the big CD Release concert on June 30th at Pyatt Hall.
We will have a list of donors at the Pyatt Hall concert and will have a copy of the CD for you at the concert if you so choose to pick it up there. If not, we’ll be mailing out copies after the festival is through, likely the first few days of July!
You purchase a copy at www.cellarlive.com .
A sincere and heartfelt thanks from myself and Jill Townsend for your generous support and patience through this emotional but exciting journey! The results are tremendous!
Tales from the Sea
“If you have ever been to Canada, you know just how beautiful the country really is. With its stunning landscape and those long cold winters, jazz music is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Jazz lovers don’t realize just how many great musicians and artists call Canada their home. From the place that brought us Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass Jazz Orchestra, we now have the Jill Townsend Big Band from Vancouver with their first CD, Tales from the Sea.”
Reviewed by: Edward Blanco , JazzReview.com
Tales from the Sea is the band’s first release and features a fine array of soloists as well as original compositions and arrangements by Jill Townsend and guitarist Bill Coon.
Jill now resides in Vancouver, B.C., but feels a very strong connection to her birthplace, Nova Scotia.
Her suite, Tales from the Sea, is dedicated to that part of the world, specifically a tiny stretch of land called Cape John on the north coast.
The photograph on the cover of the CD is a Nova Scotia wave, while the wave that connects the first two movements of the Suite was recorded on the west coast in Tofino.
The tunes . . .
From a Whisper to a Roar
Tales from the Sea (Suite)
i) Cape John
ii) Waltz of the Jellyfish
iii) Amet Island
My Wild Irish Rose
Blues in Maude’s Flat
Review of “Tales from the Sea” . . .
“The project shouts that it was done for love and no sacrifice was to great. I would suggest that when the band is described as ‘beautiful’, what is meant, beautiful in the way that Mount St. Helens is beautiful: awesome when it erupts!!!
If you choose to journey with this fabulous big band you have to equate it with being a passenger in a Rolls Royce, It is only when you put down your glass of champagne, brush the crumbs from your lap and peer out of the window that you realize you have been traveling at 120 miles per hour. The complexity of some of the arranging is conquered with an ease that suggests that even at this level of performance, the band is comfortably within its limits and tension free, so articulate and technically outstanding.
The music created by Jill Townsend and husband Bill Coon, is exciting, it is passionate, the lyrical intensity of the ballads will stop you in your tracks (Old Folks). The style of the writing scans from perhaps the best of Quincy Jones in the 50-60s (From A Whisper To A Roar) to Thad Jones & Mel Lewis. Add the puckish-ness of Jim Hall’s STREET DANCE the delightful WILD IRISH ROSE and you have the consummate big band event. There is not a weak moment on this 2002 studio recording.
A bonus for musicians who enjoy this music is the fact that a number of the arrangements are available for purchase, check the website. Please support this group if it performs locally, the album is an essential purchase for any serious collector.
P.S. During the playing of this excellent compact disc, you are likely to be impressed by the artistry of guitarist Bill Coon. His trio is featured on his own CD on the same label, you can find details on Jill Townsend’s website (link above). Respectful interpretations of standards are featured. If you insulate yourself from the real world while enjoying the CD by the big band, you might as well invite in this trio in and relax. This is the music of intimate jazz clubs, lights down, and soft lighting illuminating this quality trio.”
Cookin’ with the Jill Townsend Big Band
Click here to find out more about this cookbook featuring band members favourite recipes.