Saturday, June 29, 2013

Keith Fiala and his Nonet

I was at Sally's Place (190 Main Street, Westport CT 06880 (203-454-0303)) this morning catching up on this and that when a gentleman came in with a poster and bunch of CDs for Keith Fiala "Messages from the Other Side" (Self-produced 2013) and a bit of back story on Fiala and the music.

The music has a big band sound played by a nonet-- three brass, two woodwinds, piano, bass, guitar and drums. On two pieces there are vocals, but these are pretty forgettable compared the rest of the CD, which is very good.
fiala album cover 
So who is Keith Fiala? He's a trumpet player and educator born in  Des Moines, Iowa, and now in Austin, Texas.  He is a founding member of and performer with the R&B group Memphis Train Revue and has toured the world performing with his mentor, the legendary Maynard Ferguson.  Fiala teaches at the Austin School of Music and holds the position of Trumpet Teacher at Temple College, where he performs as Lead Trumpet in the Temple Jazz Orchestra.  Fiala has played with Arturo Sandoval, Gordon Goodwin, Randy Brecker, The Temptations, Brian Lynch, Allen Vizzutti, Bill Watrous and many others.

Messages from the Other Side mixes a nice big band sound with a bit of smooth jazz/jazz-rock mixed in, particularly where the guitar and Rhodes come to the front. The jazz standards have a glow of originality to them, with some especially nice solo work from Fiala, who hits those high notes on the trumpet like his mentor Ferguson; and Bob Sundberg on the alto, tenor and flute.  The standards are “Body and Soul,” “But Beautiful,” and “People” and have a spark of originality and excitement emanating from some nice arrangements as well as the full-throated sound of the band.  Sundberg wrote three of the songs on the CD, which are the more modern jazz-rock “Get Bent,” “E.B.,” and “Lauderdale" and are also peppy and enjoyable.  Finally, the band does a really nice job on Elton John/Bernie Taupin's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" , on which Fiala's solo work emulates and honors his mentor Ferguson. I do need to say that the two vocal pieces left me cold, but with eight tuneful tracks without them this nonet is impressive.

Keith Fiala - Trumpet PlayerI am not sure that this CD is widely distributed but I know that Sally will take and order over the phone and send it to you free if you call for it from her. If you like the sound of a nonet/small big band then you should take a listen. 


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