his first set of drums at the age of 2, New Jersey native Tommy Igoe
captured numerous awards in junior and senior high school. After touring
with the Glenn Miller Band at 18, Igoe’s career took off in the New York
recording scene, including a stint as drummer for Blood, Sweat and Tears.
Now, Igoe brings together several of the region’s finest musicians, the
Birdland Big Band, for Eleven (Deep Rhythm Music, 2012). But rather
than attempt to recreate the sound of a bygone era, Igoe assembles 11 big
band arrangements of more recent compositions.
At the core are Igoe, pianist Kenny Ascher and Tom Kennedy on acoustic and
electric bass. The band consists of five trumpets – two of them splitting
the songs, three trombones and five saxophones and flutes. Three guests
also make selected appearances, Rob Paparozzi on harmonica, Hector
Martignon on piano and Rolando Morales-Matos on percussion and vibraphone.
Darmon Meaders’s “New Ground,” opens the set. This high-energy piece has a
slight, Latin vibe with the percussion complementing the horns. Trumpeter
Nick Marchione and tenor saxophonist Dan Willis carry the melody. Willis
also delivers a blistering middle solo, putting the instrument through a
series of rapid-fire phrases. Ascher contributes as well.
“Armando’s Rhumba” is the first of two Chick Corea tunes. Featured players
are soprano saxophonist Nathan Childers, baritone saxophonist Barbara
Cifelli and Kennedy. The song’s base rhythm continues underneath the
solos, complemented by plenty of horn action. The second is “Got a Match.”
This Ted Firth arrangement sizzles. The trio of Ascher, Kennedy and Igoe
start things off.
Also featured are Willis, Childers and Matt Hong on alto saxophones and
trumpeter Glenn Drewes. The entire band stretches out on this one. The
frenetic pace threatens a meltdown by the time they’re done. It’s about
the time the listener figures everyone’s had enough fun that Igoe takes
over. The takeover is brief, however, as the full band engages in the
As the leader, Igoe passes on the opportunity to show off. He gets plenty
done keeping the rhythm or in the background behind the leads. The band
also jams to a few compositions by Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and
Igoe and the Birdland Big Band are a popular act, playing Fridays at the
legendary Birdland Jazz Club in New York City. The leader says he’s
dedicated to bringing large-ensemble jazz to a new, 21st century audience.
Eleven is an exceptional way to let those not in NYC to hear this