Mike Longo – Oasis
and the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble
(Cap Records – 2004)
by Paula Edelstein
This is a masterful offering from one of jazz’s true patriots, pianist Mike Longo. An alum of Dizzy Gillespie’s band, Longo offers his fans 13 superior compositions and arrangements that were written for 17 pieces 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxophones, piano, guitar, bass and drums. Of special note on Oasis is the brilliant execution of the brass and wind charts. Opening with “Bag of Bones,” a tribute to Mile Jackson who was affectionately known as “Bags” Longo captures the spirit of Jackson as he remembers him. A great solo from Lee Greene on alto sax keeps this real.
“Love Walked In,” features the debut of vocalist Hilary Garnder who does a great job here. “Alone Together,” is given a new twist by setting it against a Salsa beat, taking it to a 4/4 swing and then returning to the Salsa at the end! A great quote of “Nature Boy” helps spice up this set under the swinging trumpet solo of Joe Magnarelli. “Infusion” represents the current movement in jazz sometimes referred to as the “neo-bop” movement. Here Longo preserves certain elements of bebop while adding new harmonics. The definitive piece on OASIS, this song really swings.