Live from New York! (2013) by Mike Longo and
the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble is the kind of concert
performance that sets itself apart from other recordings. The concept of
going into Gillespie Auditorium, setting up some microphones and
recording with an intimate audience is familiar to fans who’ve heard
albums like Maynard Ferguson’s M.F. Horn 4 & 5 Live at Jimmy’s.
Pianist Longo mostly serves as part of the rhythm section, instead
putting the horns out front. With him are Tom Hubbard, bass; and Mike
Campenni, drums. The trumpets are Chris Rogers, John Replogle, Brian
Davis and Waldron Ricks. The trombones are Sam Burtis, Nick Finzer, Nick
Grinder and Earl McIntyre (bass). And the saxophones are producer Bob
Magnuson (alto), Lee Greene (alto), Frank Perowsky (tenor), Mike
Migliore (tenor) and Matt Snyder (baritone). Vocalist Ira Hawkins
appears on three tracks.
The set begins with a swinging rendition of Benny Golson’s “Whisper
Not.” The 13-piece horn section is at the heart, each group moving in
and out of the front but at times the entire ensemble working together.
Davis, Greene, Long and Perowsky are the soloists. But the highlight is
the power of the full ensemble, whether the horns are harmonizing or
injecting overlapping phrases.
The intense “Yoko Mama,” one of three Longo originals, is easily one of
the more enjoyable songs. Solos are by Rogers, McIntyre (bass trombone)
and Greene (alto). During each, Longo, Hubbard and Campenni get their
grooves on. The centerpiece is McIntyre’s throaty grind. The trumpets
come in during the latter part of Greene’s solo, setting the audience up
for the full band.
Rogers and Perowsky are featured on the closing track, “Wee.” It’s a
high-energy piece that showcases the strength and beauty of a saxophone
section playing the same notes, many of them in high-speed succession.
The trumpets and trombones are also dynamic.
Longo and Magnuson provide personal notes about the performance in the
liner. Longo arranged all but one track.
Longo spent several years in Dizzy Gillespie’s band. A native of
Cincinnati, he began playing piano at the age of 3, thanks to his church
organist mother and part-time jazz bassist father. After a move to
Florida, 15-year-old Longo began working with his dad’s band on weekends
and eventually was heard by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. He later
earned a bachelor of music degree in classical piano at Western Kentucky
State University. Longo’s stage and studio associations include Gene
Krupa, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Zoot Sims, Astrud Gilberto, Buddy
Rich and others. Live from New York! is the third release by
Longo and New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble.