Given the success of the Mack Avenue SuperBand’s Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival—2012, a follow up recording of their reappearance in 2013 should come as no surprise. Indeed, Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival—2013 may well be only the second in what might turn into a dynamite series. With a slightly altered talent lineup, the SuperBand, under the gentle direction of bassist Rodney Whitaker, has saxophonist Kirk Whalum and vibraphonist-marimbist Warren Wolf joining with original band members trumpeter Sean Jones, guitarist Evan Perri, pianist Aaron Diehl, and drummer Carl Evans, as well as a guest shot from Gary Burton.
While all too often a collection of superstars degenerates into little more than a pissing contest, the SuperBand never falls into that trap. These are musicians with the cojones to play as part of an ensemble, where the whole is more important than the parts. Individuals may shine when called upon for a major solo, but no one seems interested in upstaging anyone else. These are musicians with chemistry; they understand and respect each other. They buy into the ensemble.
In a set that runs a few minutes short of an hour and 20 minutes, the SuperBand runs through a program of 10 tunes, including some band member’s compositions and a number of well-known jazz pieces. They open with Warren Wolf’s “Soul Sister” and solo opportunities for the composer, as well as Whalum, Jones, Perri and Diehl, almost as though allowing each to make a statement introducing themselves to the happy crowd. “Of Mars and Venus” has composer Jones working on the flugelhorn and Whalum on flute. A joyous rendition of “Speak to My Heart” follows.
Diehl’s “Blue Nude” puts the focus on the composer with a little help from Wolf. Gary Burton shows up for two Chick Corea pieces, “Chick’s Tune” and a vibraphone, marimba duo on Wolf’s arrangement of “Señor Mouse.” Django Reinhardt’s “Troublant Bolero” features Perri’s guitar. “Relativity” and the modern gospel piece “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me” complete the set, which concludes with the Dizzy Gillespie bebop classic “Two Bass Hit.”
Let’s hope these guys can get together again for Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival-2014.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00MK7IVZW]