Bob Ferrel creates a “Jazztopian Dream” with latest release


Trombonist Bob Ferrel’s latest release, “Jazztopian Dream,” is a stylish rendering of different styles of jazz. Ferrel brings four decades’ worth of experience to a project that is energetic and engaging. “Jazztopian Dream” will be available Oct. 6.

About Bob Ferrel

Bob Ferrel has been described as “jazz’s best kept secret.” However, that same critic rightly questions how do you call someone a “secret” who has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry for more than forty years?

Ferrel is now sharing his jazz dreams with a broad audience. Having worked as a musician behind the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Stevie Ray Vaughn and others, Ferrel has more than earned his place as a band leader.

What is a “jazztopian dream”?

If a “dystopian” world depicts things as bad as they can get, and a “utopia” is the world at its best, what is a “jazztopia”? If Ferrel’s work is any indication, a jazztopia is a world that uses jazz for interpersonal communication and for relating history.

Ferrel explains in the liner notes that each song means something to his trajectory as a musician. By extension, audiences can come away with an understanding of Ferrel and the different jazz styles he uses.

Jazztopian soundscapes

Ferrel is joined on this release by 10 musicians and vocalist, Dwight West. With songs like “Poetry,” “Yardbird Suite,” “Don’t Go to Strangers,” and “My Secret Love” Ferrel makes jazz the soundtrack of a perfect world–the soundtrack of a dream.

“Inner Glimpse”

While all the songs on “Jazztopian Dream” are good in a technical sense, one of the standouts for me was “Inner Glimpse.” The arrangement is stunning, and Ferrel pushes the trombone to its limit. Listeners might be surprised to hear how full and satisfying the song’s soundscape is. Then, Ferrel showcases the trombone. The instrument makes squelches and throaty squeaks as if it were some kind of synthesizer. Also, while the band leader demonstrates the range of his instrument, audiences are left satisfied and enthralled by his skill set. Sometimes, when there is a showcase, listeners might get restless for the next motif, or the song’s logical conclusion. Here, the fullness of sound makes listeners want to applaud the recording, and they don’t necessarily want the song to end. It is deep in the way it is rendered and most jazz fans won’t be surprised at Ferrel’s capability.

The songs on the disc that feature West’s singing are excellent, as well. West has a flexible, warm baritone that sounds as though it has stepped out of the golden age of jazz. His voice swings and otherwise keeps up with the standard set by the instrumentation.

“Jazztopian Dream” is a triumph–both for Ferrel and the musicians who join him, and for jazz.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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