Review: Butler's Adult Summer Band 

Butler's Adult Summer Band
Jazz Kitchen, July 19

 What's the Adult Summer Band? Butler says it's made up of "adults from all walks of professional life who are not professional musicians, but have continued to maintain their interest in playing." And on Friday, they delivered with the aplomb of seasoned players. They remained unfazed when drama surfaced. To whit: While under any other circumstances a G-string malfunction would be concern for you know what, in this case it was band leader Mark Buselli simply taking the matter to the audience—"who votes for the string to get repaired right away, who votes for the bass player to tough it out and repair during intermission?" The sadistic tilt to the latter was overturned in the assured manner of all despots with Buselli on trumpet throwing out the planned program. "We're gonna make this up and see how it goes," he counted out the tempo, started a tune and everyone pitched in until a four-string bass made a come-back, at which point Buselli counted out 1,2, 1-2-3 and the 19 players launched into a syncopated rendition of "Fred."

"What's a big band without a vocalist?" inquired Buselli, calling up Tyler Webb, whom we haven't heard from since the disbanding of his trio. "Sure Thing," lauded for a uniquely blended cross between pop and rock, jazz and hip hop and equally at home with big band/Great American Songbook repertoire. It was the latter that vocalist Webb showcased with a saucy "Fly With Me," in the first set and a mellow "Georgia" and a touch of swag for "Accentuate the Positive," in the second set.

The band scored with a dreamy George Stone arrangement of "It Might as Well Be Spring," with tenor sax voicing and brass and the rest of the saxophones sighing the coda. The up-tempo Sammy Nestico "Boogie Express" opened with Mark Webb stepping out on piano in the company of percussion with an attitude countered by a rash of chugging by brass and reeds topped by Busseli trumpet trills for a full steam pull into the station finish.  Steve Wright's "Blues for an Elm" featured ensemble playing with soloist licks until just about everyone had a say-so.

"After Supper" is the third track on Count Basie's most acclaimed 1958 album E=MC2, reissued in 1994 as "The Atomic Mr Basie." It opened with a doodling piano, mellow reeds and muted trumpets conjuring up a sleepy tenement street,  where bull horn river sounds waft in amidst chugging trumpets and languid trombones until the flugelhorn's call to action jolts saxes into a stretching yawn. The evening closed with Les Hooper's up-tempo arrangement of "Sure Foot," for a cycling back to the opening number with driving percussion and everyone showcased.

Hear them again at Penrod.


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