Dan Bonsanti celebrates jazz on “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be”

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Dan Bonsanti and The 14 Jazz Orchestra’s forthcoming album, “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be,” will be available Jan. 1, 2019.

The album is filled with tracks that have been specially arranged by Bonsanti and brought to life by the musicians who are either former students, graduates, or faculty from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. The representation spans almost 7 decades. The artfully arranged covers are mixed with at least one original.

With 11 songs, “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” is a spectacular demonstration of modern jazz. Songs like “Armando’s Rhumba,” “Dance Cadaverous,” and “16 Tons (Give or Take)” sound traditionally inspired, but wholly modern.

About Dan Bonsanti

Dan Bonsanti earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Miami. Since completing his education, Bonsanti has performed with Stan Kenton, Jaco Pastorious’ Word of Mouth Orchestra, and Doc Severinsen. Bonsanti is known for his work as an arranger and as a saxophonist. In addition to the aforementioned performers, Bonsanti has performed with a number of bands. He has also composed and arranged for the Jaco Pastorious Big Band. In 2013, Bonsanti formed The 14 Jazz Orchestra.

The sound of The 14 Jazz Orchestra

Bonsanti’s The 14 Jazz Orchestra’s sophomore release is “The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be.” Their debut release, “Nothing Hard is Ever Easy,” made it all the way to No. 9 on the Jazz Week Chart for radio airplay. It remained in the Top 15 for a total of nine weeks.

There is a chemistry here that works. It is too malleable to call it a “formula.” But there are esoteric touches in the arrangements that make listeners gladly go along for the ride.

The soundscape makes good use of woodwinds, as well as horns. The two instrument types create lively contrasts against the drums and bass. The work doesn’t just burst forth with chaos, but each note has the right amount of energy expended. Each note’s lifespan sounds just right.

“Armando’s Rhumba” by Dan Bonsanti¬† The 14 Jazz Orchestra

Horns create a danceable series of rhythm with piano, drums, and later, woodwinds. The piccolo showcase is a high point for the uptempo track. The up-and-down horn motif comes back in to prepare the soundscape for another showcase, this time with soprano saxophone. The rhythms are mildly Latin, until about the three-quarters mark. Then, the percussion and piano come to life to create the “rhumba” feel even stronger. A nice mix of dynamics keeps listeners attentive.

The 14 Jazz Orchestra: “Dance Cadaverous”

The Wayne Shorter original is moody and stylish. Even though the piece is mid-tempo, the horns present themselves often in a flourish that feels like a rush, or a gale of wind. The bass undergirds the piece with the drums thumping and shimmering as appropriate. The trumpet solo adds texture. The piano fits into the soundscape seamlessly. The ensemble seems to excel at the kind of gentle rollicking that make slow to mid-tempo pieces come to life.

“16 Tons (Give or Take)”

The song’s title shows Bonsanti being clever. But it is the music that will engage listeners. If there is only one song a person can listen to from this album (but why would there be) then this should be the one. In this instrumental, the coal-mining theme song gets a moody re-do that is a bit bluesy and heavy on horns. The trumpet motif has to be heard to be believed. The call and response between horns and woodwinds is remarkable, too. The song is completely danceable. The staccato moments are nice, as they both replicate and springboard from the lyrical parts in the original.

Listening to “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” will not necessarily clue audiences in about what the title means, but it will demonstrate why Bonsanti and The 14 Jazz Orchestra are a fixture in the South Miami jazz scene.

 

 

 

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