Recorded at Avatar Studios, New York City, May 10-13, 2009
Joining the Norbotten Big Band on this release is Tim Hagans, Peter Erskine, Dave Liebman, George Garzone, Randy Brecker, Rufus Reid performing the compositions of Tim Hagans. Recorded in May 2009, The Avatar Sessions were produced by Bob Belden and high
Trumpeter Tim Hagans and drummer Peter Esrkine and the Norrbotten (Sweden) Big Band's last release - Worth the Wait was one of our favorites (see our review here and the boys are back with a brand new album of exciting Hagans-penned big band composition. This time they have upped the ante with the addition of several guest stars - occluding tenor saxophonist George Garzone, trumpeter Randy Brecker, soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman, bassist Rufus Reid and guitarist Vic Juris(on one track). The Norrbotten Big Band is known throughout Europe as one of the more adventurous ensembles on the current scene.
Hagans - who is well-known for his work with Marc Copland, Maria Schneider, Joe Lovano, the Yellowjackets and many more - and has also been the Artistic Director for the Norrbotten Big Band since 1996. His unique and exciting compositional style is enhanced by his understanding of the band's strengths - and the leader puts his band through their paces. Starting with the energetic "Buckeyes" through to the ending "Song for Mirka," Hagans shows himself to be a first rate composer for big bands who combines traditional understanding with new directions. The funky "Boo" is a highlight - with great trumpet work from Brecker and Hagans, while the "simple" love song""Box of Cannoli is anything but. The shimmering "Here With Me" features Liebman and is another highlight, as is "Palt Seanuts" - which harkens back to the early days of bebop. Reid gets the solo spotlight on "Rufus at Gilly's," flugelhornist Dan Johansson is showcased on the haunting "Song for Mirka," while drummer Erskine gets a couple solo spots that again remind what a great big band drummer he is. But it is the compositions that in the end are the biggest stars of this fine album of original big band music.
All Music Guide