Introducing The Flying Horse Big Band
“Big man on campus” is the eighth album from the University of Central Florida’s Flying Horse Big Band. The recording includes songs by Henry Mancini and Jeff Rupert. The brass sections are full and the sound is smooth and easy. The brass is complemented by a rhythm section comprised of piano, organ, upright, and electric bass, guitar, drums, and additional percussion. The big band sound that many contemporary listeners still love is perfected. And audiences might find that they have a physiological compulsion to sway and dance. Some favorites are discussed below, but other standouts include, “Partido Blue,” “Move, Move, Move” and “The New Creole Love Call.”
The horn notes sound layered one group atop the other, and then, against a backdrop of staccato drums, a lonely saxophone lays down a melody, and thus, a wonderful atmosphere is created. This is a big band for a new age. There is a key change and the horns sound as though they are swaying in the smooth sea of their own music. The addition of a guitar makes this lively and sound just a bit different this time around. This is classic Harry Mancini, however. And in the hands of the Flying Horse Big Band, it loses none of its big city style.
“Big Man on Campus”
It is too bad that this phrase has almost fallen out of favor among American idioms. If it hadn’t, then more people would get the mood that is evoked. Rupert’s arrangement is lively and it swings with a natural verve, the makes listeners’ think of “the big game” and letterman’s sweaters. Maybe it is the idea of “cool” that comes with a certain era in American history. This is swing music that literally propels listeners to move. Listeners should challenge themselves to listen to this song and see what happens to their shoulders. The natural response is a sway, perhaps with a small bounce in between, depending on the individual’s inherent inclination toward movement. In short, it is a fun song, about as close to “camp” as I have gotten in my jazz listening so far. How perfect for late spring, early summer! But, with all the old school trappings of this release, it is easy to imagine the scenes this song could evoke on a crisp, fall day.
The seventh song is in contrast to “Big man on campus.” The song moves like a shift in moods. It begins brightly, then stabilizes through low brass notes and a gentle clacking of percussion. Things change after a moody saxophone provides some melody. A sparkling piano keeps the mood from being completely morose, but a pensive moment gets underway quickly. And just when listeners think they know where the song is going, the mood gets relatively bright again.
The Flying Horse Big Band for all its retrospective fun, presents serious jazz. The classics and the new songs and their brilliant arrangements, make this a CD to own, to ponder, and to play again and again.