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  • Our CDs
  • Liner Notes from "Living in the Moment" CD
  • Liner Notes from "Kindred Spirits" CD

  • Our CDs

    All of our recordings can be sampled at the Sound Gallery on our website and can be purchased at CD Baby or Write a review if you like them!

    Our new CD, "Kindred Spirits," is also available on iTunes.

    Kindred Spirits (2006)

    Our latest project, featuring a "front line" of jazz solo legends Bill Watrous (trombone) and Pete Christlieb (tenor sax), with our band. Highlights include "Kindred Spirits," "Girl Talk," "Theme From 'Chinatown'," "Lester Leaps In" and "That Old Feeling." New on Summit Records.

    Living in the Moment (2003)

    Our second endeavor, featuring Pete Christlieb, Rickey Woodard, Wayne Bergeron, Ali Ryerson, Kim Richmond, John Pisano, Christian Jacob and a Guest Appearance by Bill Watrous. Highlights include "Slow Boat to China," "East of the Sun," a four-way trumpet battle on "Colores del Fuego" and a ten-minute version of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" combined with Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings." (What was that arranger thinking?) On Sea Breeze Jazz Records.

    Perspectives (2000)

    Our initial outing, featuring the same cast of characters. Highlights include Freddie Hubbard's "Sky Dive," "Chucho," Wayne Bergeron's featured trumpet on "Beauty and the Beast," and "Stormy Weather" in 3/4 time. On Sea Breeze Jazz Records.

    Liner Notes from "Living in the Moment" CD

    Gary Urwin's Perspectives, released in 2000, marked the debut of a gifted composer and arranger whose writing for an all-star, Los Angeles-area ensemble revealed depth, ebullience, sensitivity and class.

    Boasting such numbers as the pulsating Latin/jazz groover, "Chucho" and the no-nonsense swinger, "Somebody Loves Me," Perspectives garnered solid reviews in magazines like Jazz Times, Jazz Journal and Cadence, received substantial airplay and brought deserved attention to a first-rate talent.

    Urwin is back with Living In The Moment, an album that not only has all the qualities that made Perspectives so compelling but that also takes some bold, new strides, broadening the leader's viewpoint by stretching into fresh areas with dynamism and swagger. This is a solid, invigorating recording.

    The Oberlin College graduate, who names Thad Jones, Bill Holman, Gerry Mulligan and Gil Evans among his influences, explains his philosophy here:

    "I tried to select charts that were different, that would challenge the players and listeners, and that had something to say. I was looking for depth, substance and fun. I also wanted to take chances, sometimes writing as close to the edge as makes musical sense."

    The jubilant "East of the Sun" is an ideal opener, and tenorman Pete Christlieb's impassioned solo is a delight. A brass-rich ensemble chorus, with a tiny nod to Johnny Carson's theme, leads to subdued, shimmering clusters surrounding Trey Henry's bass solo.

    The invigorating, Latin-based "Colores del Fuego" (Colors of the Fire) is a showcase for the brilliant-toned trumpets of Ron King, Steve Huffsteter, Carl Saunders and Wayne Bergeron, who solo individually then simultaneously. Impressive. Later, the piece gets softer, a bit dissonant and spotlights percussionist Michito Sanchez before Kim Richmond's vibrant-toned alto solo.

    The leader's "Sublimation" starts calmly, with low woodwinds and brass over an ambling jazz/rock beat. "I was trying to achieve a looser, small band feel," says Gary. Rusty Higgins' soprano improv is set over floating, cloud-like sound shapes that grow gradually more intense, leading to Christian Jacob’s meaty piano solo. Frank Browne's fusion-tinged guitar is another pleasant surprise.

    As legend has it, Frank Sinatra's rendition of "I'm a Fool to Want You" (including some of his own lyrics) reflected the singer's pain over his famously tempestuous marriage to actress Ava Gardner, thought to be the love of his life. Bill Watrous' buttery-toned trombone is a killer here. "It was the perfect voice to express the content of the song," says Urwin, who throughout uses selected dissonances to evoke the lyrics.

    In contrast, "Slow Boat to China" is plain, swinging fun. Christlieb then Rickey Woodard are the dueling tenors on this rendition inspired by Sonny Rollins' early-1950s version. Jacob drops in another percolating piano solo.

    Bill Evans' "Time Remembered" allows Urwin to interpret one of his favorite composers. "I was always struck by his vulnerability, the emotional beauty of his music," says Gary. That beauty is mirrored in Urwin's quietly gleaming orchestrations, as the density of the voices he uses paints a compelling aural portrait.

    Jeremy Wall wrote "Little Linda" for the contemporary group Spyro Gyra, but Urwin handily fits it into his format. The number possesses choice orchestral passages; Richmond, on alto, delivers a juicy interpretation of the theme, followed by guest artist Ali Ryerson’s inviting alto flute and Browne’s guitar.

    Urwin salutes Gerry Mulligan with his version of Mulligan's "Song for Strayhorn," a lyrical number that showcases Bob Efford's song-like baritone saxophone solo, David Shamban's winsome cello and Jacob – in moving, unaccompanied moments.

    The deft blending of portions of Samuel Barber's majestic "Adagio for Strings" with Billy Strayhorn's telling ballad, "Lush Life," exemplifies Urwin's desire to push boundaries. "These are both classics, from very different modes of music, but in a more fundamental way I felt that they have similar emotional content," notes the leader. "I tried to integrate them in a way that works with this instrumentation and within this idiom."

    Urwin's cheerful bossa nova "For Liz and John" is for his children, in whom he takes great delight. Brass and reed swells dart in and around ace solos by flugelhornist Ron King, soprano saxophonist Rusty Higgins and guitarist John Pisano, who also plays rhythm guitar. "John adds a great feel," says Gary, "and the same can be said of the whole band."

    "Outside Looking In" is another Urwin number with multiple flavors. The robust, motoring-along piece includes nugget-rich solos from trombonist Andy Martin and Christlieb, succulent orchestral writing amidst two Ralph Razze drum improvs and a pleasingly unresolved ending.

    Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" is given a thorough workout by Urwin and company, going from a mellow Efford/ensemble melody reading to a medium-up band romp in 3/4 featuring Ron King, percussionist Sanchez and guitarist Browne. "I kind of messed with it a little," Gary laughs.

    The apropos closer, leaving us in a refreshingly quiet place, is a tender duet on "East of the Sun" by Christlieb and Jacob.

    Urwin has scored again with Living In The Moment. The way he sees it, his crew deserves most of the credit. "I have such great instrumentalists, and they have a wonderful group spirit," he says. "They’re always an integral part of creating the music, which makes it different each time. My job was just trying to come up with something interesting to play."

    That he did.

    --Zan Stewart
    Contributor, Jazziz, Stereophile.

    Comments From Friends of the Band:

    Exceptionally creative charts, and they swing, too!

    Chuck Niles,

    It is such a treat to hear such lovely music played by so many of your friends. Gary’s music utilizes a large tonal palette, and his musicians really deliver!

    Bob Florence,
    Grammy Award-Winning Jazz Composer/Pianist/Bandleader of the Bob Florence Limited Edition

    Liner Notes from "Kindred Spirits" CD

    A LABOR OF LOVE. It’s an overworked phrase, but there’s no better way to describe the dedicated work and positive energy of so many people who contributed their unique talents to this project.

    I don’t recall when the idea first came up of putting together these two of my favorite jazz soloists as a “front line,” integrated with my big band and my “charts,” or arrangements. But in retrospect it seems like an idea that was, in a sense, inevitable and overdue.

    Long before I knew either Bill Watrous or Pete Christlieb, Bill’s Tiger of San Pedro and Manhattan Wildlife Refuge albums used to keep me entranced for endless hours while driving back and forth to college on snowy two-lane highways in Ohio; then I’d arrive at college or home and watch Pete’s mastery of every jazz idiom as the featured soloist on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Though both were very young men at the time, they seemed to have every jazz nuance and style mastered with grace, confidence, and class.

    Fast forward a few years, through schooling, careers, and my becoming active as a jazz arranger in Los Angeles. During those years, Bill continued to win every Downbeat trombone poll for the better part of a decade; Pete’s artistry graced countless studio sessions in L.A., including Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable duet across the generations.

    When I started recording with my own band in L.A., I was delighted that Pete said OK, he’d be in the band. Actually didn’t just say “OK”; but, with his usual boundless optimism, said “Sure; when do we start?” I was subsequently fortunate enough to have Bill join us for a feature on our second album.

    Then the pieces started to jell. It was time for these artists to record together, with the third, co-equal role to be played by a terrific big band (the one I modestly named after myself!). Bill and Pete were seasoned, distinctive voices in jazz, at the height of their game, and should be heard playing off of one another in the way that only a cohesive pair of jazz soloists can do. A joint focus album, with just enough trombone, just enough tenor, supported by the right charts with some fresh surprises to put the soloists and the band in the right spotlight, was a killer concept.

    Pete and Bill enthusiastically agreed; so we met, picked tunes, told a few jokes, developed a concept and focus for the album, told a few more jokes, laughed and planned.

    I wish I could say the ensuing part was hard work, but the charts and recording plans fell into place so effortlessly that it was nothing but fun. Friends and colleagues commented that I’d never turned out charts so quickly in a row, but each with the TLC I like to give each arrangement to try and ensure it says something worth saying. With Bill and Pete as soloists, all I had to do was provide the setting -- they did most of the saying for me. They play with unparalleled virtuosity, but with musicality, taste and above all, always a beautiful sound full of heart.

    From the first rehearsal on, we found that the magic was there when we put all this together; egos dissipated and mutual respect prevailed. As they always do, Bill and Pete gave 110% -- all the time, no excuses, nothing less than their best. Add the likes of Bobby Shew on trumpet and Christian Jacob on piano for the few solos on the album in which we break up the trombone/tenor focus, together with the stellar lead trumpet of Wayne Bergeron and the rest of the band, and we had an abundance of riches. The front line soloists, the band and its arranger were and are, in every sense of the word, kindred spirits.

    When we heard the playbacks, we all truly felt we’d captured something special on these tracks. From this side of the console, I can only tell you how pleased we were to dedicate our efforts to this project, and how much fun we had in creating it. Judging how the mixture came out we happily leave to you, the listener. Enjoy!

    Gary Urwin

    Comments From Friends of the Band:

    Gary has done it again. He has grown musically, is more daring and as always puts a band together of the finest. With Pete and Bill, you have a special icing on the cake, and it’s a rich, satisfying cake.

    Bob Florence,
    Grammy Award-Winning Jazz Composer/Pianist/Bandleader of the Bob Florence Limited Edition

    Here on his third CD, Gary Urwin continues to reveal his depth, understanding and feeling for large ensemble writing, coming forth with pieces that grab your ears. And Pete and Bill in the spotlight ain’t too bad, neither.

    Zan Stewart,
    Jazz Journalist