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.
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.
I 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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