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The Cool Moose Orchestra - Glenn Tucker, leader
17 year old pianist, saxophonist, composer, arranger and bandleader Glenn Tucker has done it again! He has produced another high quality CD on the PKO Records label that will amaze, entertain and delight. This new CD features Glenn Tucker and his incredible band of his fellow student jazz musicians from the Ann Arbor schools. They have named themselves: The Cool Moose Orchestra and they have taken the southeast Michigan music scene by storm with their talent, dedication and enthusiasm! The Cool Moose Orchestra has performed at many southeast Michigan festivals and regularly at Susan Chastain's Firefly Club and Doug Marrin's Foggy Bottom Coffee House in Dexter. Glenn's magnificent big band arrangements are a big part of this great CD but that is only part of the story. Other contributing factors to the success of The Cool Moose Orchestra include the fact that this band is entirely self organized.
The members of The Cool Moose Orchestra are all high school age student jazz musicians and have strong foundations from their associations with the Ann Arbor Public Schools Summer Jazz Program (directed by Sean Dobbins), Ann Arbor School For The Performing Arts Jazz Program (directed by Paul Finkbeiner and Jack Wagner) and the Ann Arbor Community High School Jazz Program (led by Mike Grace). But the band has been organized and rehearsed through the sole efforts of its student membership and without the benefit of adult supervision. This makes them an extraordinary unit. Their youthful energy and buoyant spirit are two of their greatest assets.
The Cool Moose Orchestra's self-titled CD is an eclectic mix of modern jazz, traditional swing, soul jazz, and original tunes. The program features Glenn's mature and creative big band arrangements, outstanding ensemble playing and excellent improvised jazz solos from these incredible young musicians.
1. The "Q" Tune is an original composition by Glenn Tucker that the CMO uses as an opener for its live performances. The "Q" Tune's easy swing beat, "inside" harmony and friendly feel make it the perfect first tune for this fine album.
2. Tay's Blues is Glenn's dedication to Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Piston's gentle giant. The gritty funk feel and the tenor saxophone battle between Glenn and Yali Rivlin create vivid imagery that evokes the intensity that is Detroit Pistons basketball.
3. I Remember Clifford features Paul Lewis' mature and gentle ballad playing on trumpet. Paul Lewis is a student of veteran Ann Arbor jazz musician and teacher Paul Finkbeiner. Fink's influence can be heard in Lewis' playing; at times you can't hear where Paul leaves off and where Paul begins. However, Paul Lewis remains his own man and let's his personal style shine through on this heartfelt eulogy for one of the greatest trumpeters of all times, Clifford Brown.
4. The Dog is composed by CMO trombonist and band manager Connor Otto. Connor is the backbone of the CMO. He does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of logistics and organization. The Dog is a swinging minor blues with excellent solos from Martin Tinkerhess on alto sax, Raynor Vandeven on bass and the composer on trombone. Glenn's effective arrangement lets the soloists cut loose and highlights the many strong qualities of the CMO.
5. Hip Hop Bebop is a tune composed by Toledo jazz veterans pianist Claude Black and bassist Clifford Murphy. Glenn Tucker has developed a strong relationship with these great musicians by sitting in with them as a regular guest artist on piano and saxophone at their home jazz club in Toledo, Murphy's Place. Consequently, the CMO has performed at Murphy's Place every month throughout 2006 and 2007. The CMO is grateful to Claude, Clifford and Joan Russell for their support and encouragement. This is the very first recording of Hip Hop Bebop, a tune that Claude and Clifford use as set break theme. This chart starts with a unison line played with a funky groove and morphs into Rhythm Changes with an altered bridge section. Great solos from pianist Mark Phillips and tenor saxophonist Glenn Tucker.
6. Eddie's Theme is modeled after saxophonist Eddie Harris's patented groove. The CMO has found a connection to Eddie Harris' music and performs many of his great compositions regularly. If you dig the Eddie Harris style, you love Eddie's Theme, composed by Glenn.
7. Since I Fell For You has a 1950s R&B ballad feel, complete with triplets in the right hand of the piano and bluesy, emotional saxophone stylings. The familiar melody strikes a chord of reminiscence with listeners whenever the CMO plays this chart on gigs. Young and old audience members respond with energetic cheers of approval, especially after Raynor Vandeven's bass solo.
8. Jimmy McHugh's and Dorothy Field's popular and enduring standard I Can't Give You Anything But Love is next. This one sports the CMO Glee Club in a light-hearted vocal rendition that will bring a smile to your face and put song a song in your heart.
9. Jimmy Van Heusen's and Johnny Burke's Here's That Rainy Day follows, with a pensive horn choir at the beginning and then an easy swing feel throughout the remainder of this straight ahead chart that coasts from start to finish.
10. The closing track is People Get Ready by R&B singer/songwriter Curtis Mayfield. This style of tune is a departure from normal big band fare but Glenn and the CMO have successfully and creatively combined their affinity for varied musical styles with their love of jazz music. This is another factor that sets the Cool Moose Orchestra apart from most big bands.
Taken as whole, this project and this band is an amazing offering from a remarkable group of talented and focused young people. In a world where there is so much bad news and unfulfilled promise, The Cool Moose Orchestra stands out as a shining example of young musicians whose training, research, dedication, teamwork, support from caring adults, and love from their families and friends has resulted in a exceptional organization that will live in the history of Ann Arbor's music legacy.