Trombonist, composer and arranger, John Fedchock, presents a variety of styles on “Reminiscence.” He manages to make the trombone sound more agile and collaborative than the brass instrument is sometimes known to be. On this album that mixes classics and originals, Fedchock uses the trombone in tandem with drum, piano and bass styles that are at turns blues or Latin-oriented. While the entire album gives jazz fans something to look forward to hearing, the tracks “The Third Degree” and “Loose Change,” which are Fedchock originals, show off the stylish and flexible approach to the sound of the trombone.
About John Fedchock
Fedchock has a recording career that stretches back three decades. Beginning in 1980, the New York-based musician worked with legendary Woody Herman Orchestra. For nearly a decade, Fedchock toured with Herman’s “Thundering Herd” as musical director. In addition, Fedchock served as musical coordinator and chief arranger for Herman’s last two Grammy-nominated albums.
As a band leader, Fedchock has a 16-piece big band named after himself. The band is comprised of alumni from major big bands and some of New York City’s top soloists. The Big Band has five CDs to its credit and has found success on jazz radio.
In New York City, he is considered a leading composer, writer and performer. Not only does he lead the John Fedchock Big Band, he also leads the John Fedchock NY Sextet.
Fedchock has also earned two Grammy nominations for his arranging skills. He is known for maintaining a heavy touring schedule, and even though Fedchock has worked with big names in big cities, the tunes for “Reminiscence,” (and 2015’s “Fluidity”) were recorded during three nights of performances at Havana Nights in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Even though the club has since closed, the music played there by Fedchock and company lives on. Known for its beautiful and intimate space, Havana Nights was acoustically designed for recording with state-of-the-art equipment.
For “Reminiscence” Fedchock combines his efforts with those of bassist Jimmy Masters, pianist John Toomey and drummer Dave Ratajczak, who Fedchock knew from their days with Herman’s Thundering Herd. Sadly, Ratajczak died of cancer after the recording of the album.
Fedchock’s style is relatively low-key and offers a warm tone to the big brass instrument.
“The Third Degree” by John Fedchock Quartet
The sound and feel of the song makes listeners feel as if they have heard the song before, except it is an original. The song jumps in with a spry mix of piano, bass and softly crashing drums. After a few measures of the motif, the trombone slides in. Fedchock’s approach makes the trombone as nimble as a saxophone or trumpet. For people who have never heard the trombone used in this way, the experience is extraordinary.
Fedchock twists the trombone’s lines through a series of motifs, and paves the way for the piano showcase. The piano is light, but fast and at the forefront of the soundscape. The drums come in a little louder during the piano showcase, too, as if creating an accent for instrument.
A nice effect on the album is hearing the well-behaved applause of the audience. Listeners of the album will likely appreciate the shared experience of hearing good music with an audience who had a front row seat to the performance.
“Loose Change” by John Fedchock Quartet
A bluesy track, the song opens with a verve-rich exchange between trombone and piano. The rests here are almost as important as the notes. The blues-feel is heightened when the upright bass kicks in. Again, the trombone acts much like some listeners expect a saxophone to.
But not to be overlooked are the killer drummer rolls that rush and back off with style and control. The bass offers a swing feel during the piano showcase.
“Loose Change” is another Fedchock original that listeners will think they have heard before. The nearly deconstructed bass sound around four minutes, 38 seconds adds texture. The song ends on one of the trombone’s energetic passages supported by the rest of the quartet.
Even though it is not a Christmas album, “Reminiscence” is a gift for jazz fans.