Hear Tony on Chris Tedesco’s “Living the Dream”
By Nicholas F. Mondello
Nick Mondello is a pro trumpeter, writer and marketing/PR consultant to musicians worldwide.
In “Living the Dream”, Los Angeles-based trumpeter / contractor / producer Chris Tedesco proves that he is a consummate multi-tasker. He leads his L.A. Jazz Big Band and Orchestra admirably, contracted the sessions, arranged a selection, composed four originals, engineered, edited, and produced the CD. The result of this array of endeavors is a slick, swinging, throwback salute to hip, straight-ahead big band jazz in the tradition of the great Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Orchestra.
This ten-tune disc offers a mix of fine originals and well-known jazz classics, all done in a marvelous style. While there’s no avant-garde, ultra-outside hip, breakthrough stuff here, there’s no need. This recipe works very well, so revolutionaries and outsiders should look elsewhere. Living the Dream is utterly purist in proudly bowing to the classic big band and vocalist/orchestra formats. The balance here—between Tedesco’s leading and playing, individuals’ solo performances, ensemble playing, and the great arrangements—is near-perfect.
Tedesco, an “Upstate Burner” originally from Niagara Falls, New York and, for two-plus decades, a first-call fixture on the L.A. studio scene, plays marvelously in a very Severinsen-esque style. His sound is full, engaging, chock-full of chops, and his technique is terrific. The inclusion of fine vocalist Tony Galla and string orchestra into the mix and the incorporation of Jim McMillen’s tasty, intelligent, no-clichés arrangements—his pen spewing lines of intelligence and challenge throughout—show Tedesco’s swing savvy and production smarts.
The opener, “Shuffle This,” sets the CD table and the menu is swing, served four-star hot. The funky street-beat strut of “Get on Board” features a nice gut-bucket trombone solo by Jim McMillen and some hot Tedesco sauce. “Race to the Bottom” is a fun speedball with “Sing, Sing, Sing” percussive overtones. Tedesco opens up his solo jazz chops nicely, while Brian Scanlon’s scatting sax solos wail, as do Glenn Berger’s and Rick Keller’s. “I’ve Got Some Kind of Rhythm” flows nicely with a nice tongue-turning by trombonist Bob McChesney. The ensemble playing across the session is articulate and never too studio tight or sterile. The rhythm section drives and never intrudes.
Song stylist Tony Galla gets the what used to be called “Cadillac touch” and a spotlight (with Tedesco fills) with string orchestra on “Willow Weep for Me” and big band on “Learnin’ the Blues.” Galla has a versatile, full, classic—yet soulfully hip—voice, with shades of Tony Bennett, James Brown, and two “Kings”—Nat “King” Cole and King Pleasure. He’s a deft phrase-turner with an elegant lyric touch.
Tony….You completely blew me away with your interpretation of “Moody’s Mood For Love”. Your voice, a magnificent arrangement and Chris Tedesco’s mellow playing gives me goose bumps each time I listen to it. The album is getting a lot of play time here in the Tampa Bay area on Public Radio along with some very nice compliments. I’ve also emailed Chris not only to buy the album but to share my feelings on this beautiful album. A topping on the cake would be well deserved Grammies for both you and Chris…. – Dave H., Venice, Florida
The production values on Living the Dream are excellent and the black “vinyl” CD plays shrewdly to the classic production package. To paraphrase the title of an old Guy Lombardo tune: “Did You Ever See a Dream Swinging?” Here it is. Buona sera!
Track listing: Shuffle This; Get on Board; Willow Weep for Me; Learnin’ the Blues; Race to the Bottom; I’ve Got “Some” Kind of Rhythm; It’s a Man’s World; The Opener; Lewistonia; Moody’s Mood for Love.
Personnel: Chris Tedesco: trumpet, flugelhorn: Harry Kim: trumpet; Bill Churchville: trumpet; Lee Thornburg: trumpet; Dan Fornero: Larry Williams: trumpet; Bruce Otto: trombone (1,4); Jim McMillen: trombone; Bob McChesney; trombone; Dave Ryan: trombone; Ira Nepus: trombone:(5,9) Charlie Morillas: bass trombone; Brian Scanlon: alto sax, soprano sax; Rusty Higgins: alto sax; Phil Feather; alto sax (5, 8); Glen Berger: tenor sax; Rick Keller: tenor sax; Glen Berger: baritone sax; Jeff Driskill: tenor sax (2); Corey Allen: piano; Jon Kurnick: guitar (10); Kevin Axt: bass; Dave Tull: drums; The angel City Studio Orchestra, Massamici Amano, conductor (3,7): John Wittenberg: violin/concertmaster; Kathleen Robertson, Phillip Vaiman, Kristin Fife, Cameron Patrick,Chris Reutinger,Isabelle Senger, Anna Kostyuchek, Zina Kostyuchek, Vladimir Polimatidi; Carolyn Osborne, Jackie Suzuki, Charlie Bisharat, susan Chatman: violins; Miriam Mayer, Margo Aldcroft, Adriana Zoppo, Novi Novog: violas; Peggy Baldwin, stefanie Fife, Jan Kelley, Kevan Torfeh: celli; Phil Feather: oboe; Bob Shulgold: flute;Joe Meyer: french horn; Paul Klintworth: french horn; Richard Geere: piano; Adrian Rosen: bass; MB Gordy: drums; Jon Kurnick: guitar.