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Music Review: Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra – Where or When

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Music is, in large part, about the joining of various components of sound to form something along the lines of sonic bliss. Sometimes a seemingly perfect set of components is made even richer with the addition of another, while other times the addition spoils the soup. In the case of the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra’s Where or When, adding a little something extra provides scrumptious spice for the broth.

The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra was started by Mark Buselli and arranger/trombone player Brent Wallarab in 1994. The idea was to formulate an entirely instrumental group, but art has a way of wandering where it wants to go. The Jazz Orchestra began to work with singer Everett Green as a natural extension of the artistic journey. Where or When marks their third collaboration with the remarkable vocalist.

“There are many competent vocalists who aspire to sing with a big band, but artists like Everett are one in a million,” says Wallarab.

Indeed, the rich and smoky texture of Green’s vocal styling is unique and pleasing. He draws immense warmth from the notes, intoning eloquently and adding perfect rhythm. Green is flat-out cool.

Where or When features music from a smaller formation of the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra. Influenced by Marty Paitch’s ensembles, the setup allows for lighter, crisper sound and helps draw intimate lines without losing any of the power or impact of a traditional big band. They swing deep without pulling away.

Guest vocalist Cynthia Lane is along for the ride as well, offering a pleasant feminine counter-balance to Green’s dusky masculine tones. Her work on “L-O-V-E” is silky and light, working elegantly with the slower tempo. And Lane proves she can swing with the best of them on “Avalon,” a bouncy and jubilant tune.

But with all due respect to Lane, Everett Green is the vocal star of this particular show.

“My Romance” finds him stretching notes out with sensitivity and vulnerability. The title track swings gently and Everett fits nicely over the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, edging up the tension as the song builds tenderly.

Green does his finest work on the standard “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” His deep voice wraps around the gentle track, infusing vulnerable sanguinity in every word.

Where or When also features a few instrumental tracks. “More Than You Know” uses Wallarab’s trombone as the centerpiece, while “Wonderland” almost melts out of the speakers with Rob Dixon on tenor sax and Buselli’s flugelhorn.

The Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra’s Where or When is an elegantly constructed piece of music. Its 13 tracks run the gamut of swinging big band magic and tender, gentle balladry. With Lane and Green providing remarkable vocals and the band’s professionalism cruising passionately, Where or When makes for a terrific nightcap.

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