The only Long Island big band to perform original arrangements and compositions, The Interplay Jazz Orchestra, returns with its third album, “On the Sunny Side.” The orchestra is reported comprised of some of the best musicians from Long Island, New York. The sound of “On the Sunny Side” bears this out. There is a feeling of jazz history, even on songs that were not necessarily written with jazz in mind. The music is seamless, the sound and its execution clear and vibrant, it envelops listeners and takes them on a sonic cruise they will never want to depart.
With eleven tracks, “On the Sunny Side” gives listeners a range of songs. Each piece shows a little more about the artistry that has gone into creating an album that jazz fans need to hear.
About Interplay Jazz Orchestra
The Interplay Jazz Orchestra is co-directed by trumpeter Gary Henderson and trombonist Joey Devassy. The group’s debut album was released in 2013. Titled, “My Love You’re Free,” it received rave reviews from All About Jazz magazine and used previously undiscovered melodies by Billy Strayhorn.
By 2015, Interplay Jazz Orchestra returned with “Detour.” Recorded at The Bunker Studios in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it too, garnered attention from All About Jazz, and it made an impressive showing on jazz charts. The album remained at No. 4 on the CMJ Jazz Radio Charts for three weeks, and made it to No. 35 on JazzWeek Radio Charts. At the end of 2016, “Detour” was No. 9 according to the CMJ Jazz Radio Charts.
Most recently the group has been performing a monthly residency at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, New York. Interplay Jazz Orchestra also does bi-monthly performances at Treme in Islip, New York. In addition, a recent performance at historic Birdland in New York City was sold out.
But the group’s members vary their playing opportunities. Some can be seen and heard playing with some of the world’s most famous big bands, including The Birdland Big Band, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra.
Interplay Jazz Orchestra’s latest release, “On the Sunny Side,” was recorded at The Bunker Studios in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The ensemble is a collection of 17 musicians that represent a range of instrument types, including alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. With four trombones and the same number of trumpets, it is easy to see how Interplay Jazz Orchestra gets its full sound. In addition, there is also a bass player, piano player and drummer. The sound of Interplay Jazz Orchestra makes listeners feel as though they are sitting in a live performance, no matter where they may be and regardless of devices used to listen.
While the entire album enthralls, some stand out tracks include “Sing” and “Renewed.”
“Sing” by Interplay Jazz Orchestra
The vocal classic gets an update with the bass driving at a fast pace in an undergirding of sound that never stops. Horns take on the vocal part. There is a solo by alto saxophonist Andrew Gould that adds dimension to the piece. Overall the song sounds like a celebration, as opposed to the sometimes melancholy tone it takes when there is an actual singer.
As this is the first song on the recording, it is a nice orientation to what the Interplay Jazz Orchestra can do.
Interplay Jazz Orchestra: “Renewed”
There is something about the swaying sound of horns that reminds some listeners of classic Hollywood, or some other glamorous time period. The song has multiple motifs, as it goes from huge horn sound, to more nuanced sound with drums, and there is yet another motif that bounces with horns, and then slows down for the tenor sax showcase.
The drums are a thunderous force on this song, and that works well with the what the horns are doing. The song seems to move, or is narrating movement, as in high-energy swing dancing. It is fun to listen to, and when it stops, listeners will want more.
Three albums into their relatively short history and the Interplay Jazz Orchestra has made impressive, energetic strides on “On the Sunny Side.”