The Michael Treni Big Band

Pop Culture Blues

Just as I was despairing of listening to a modern big band sometime soon, along comes Michael Treni.

Treni leads an 18-piece band in what has been described as “A thrilling and thoughtful jazz journey through America’s quintessential musical form”. Well said that, man!

A big band is special, but a big band playing the blues is extra special and it all comes together in this album Pop Culture Blues.

All 10 tracks were composed and arranged by Treni, so the titles will mean nothing to you. But in fact the titles are craftily worded as in, One For The Duke, Minor Blues, Summer Blues, Mr Funky Blues and Smokin’ Blues.

These tracks, in the order written, were inspired by Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus, John Coltrane and Oliver Nelson, and McCoy Tyner.

This is Treni’s fifth big band album and has been available since the date of release, June 25.

Pop Culture Blues is summed up in the release notes as a savvy concept that wears its theme with grace and style in a 10-movement suite that explores modern jazz’s rapidly evolving compositional styles through the lens of the blues.

I don’t have the space to list the musos, but all the essential ingredients of a big band are here: trombones (4x), trumpets (4x), Woodwinds (6x) and a rhythm section of piano, bass, guitar, drums and percussion. Those gorgeously rich notes from the baritone sax and trombone really reach into you.

For a big band, the orchestra is surprisingly tight and the recording engineer deserves credit for the quality of the production.

The final track Pop Culture Blues is described as: “Given the stylistic recording the listener prob- ably expects the closing track to be the most contemporary of the suite. The composer has chosen instead to finish off the album on a more relaxed note.” Bravo!

If you are a fan of modern big bands and especially the blues, get clicking on the internet and order this great CD.

The album has an excellent booklet describing the way in which the tunes were constructed (for want of a better word) but is not available locally.

For ordering information go to:

• Contact me at manofjass for a free subscription by e-mail to South Africa’s only international jazz magazine, The Jassman.

Thanks for the invitations, but I don’t “do” social sites.