Dave Slonaker Big Band

Released October 11, 2013

JazzWise Five-Star Review

Grammy Nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2014

YouTube: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=JA9UVpdDKS8&list=OLAK5uy_mWnfjxIvBvOD3JmqYP8SbBwmMQjl0JHfI

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5X0GxXAQ0VF8FLrEyYgi18?si=AEmXC2uYTPa5KD4V7iRDu


Intrada is a musical form often composed as a prelude, overture, or fanfare and seemed an appropriate title for the inaugural album of the Dave Slonaker Big Band. Big Bands seem to go in and out of style, always coming back, renewed. There is a good reason for this. Where else do you find the power and the variety of colors of woodwinds, brass and a rhythm section, combined with the passion of jazz improvisation? While this album is a beginning of sorts, it is also a reflection of the rich traditions of big band jazz and my big band writing through the years… with a suggestion of where I want to go with the band.

You’ll hear echoes of many of my heroes and influences: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, Thad Jones, Bill Holman, Gerry Mulligan, Clark Terry and all the Jazz Mesengers and Horace Silver groups. But above all, my approach focuses on the jazz soloist and how I as an arranger frame their solos and tell a story. My view is that the real essence of my favorite bands and arrangers is arrangements that provide the settings for the personalities of the musicians in the band. And of course, it’s got to groove!

Music and stories have always fascinated me so it was inevitable that I would end up in Los Angeles. I’ve been fortunate to orchestrate and arrange for many films and TV shows in the past 26 years. To work day in and day out with incredibly talented musicians is a blessing – their versatility is amazing. But it was always my dream to bring together my colleagues and friends in a big band.

Rather than saying anything about each of the individual tracks, consider them stories, and let the music and the brilliant artistry of the musicians speak fot itself. I thank everyone in the band for their help, talents and most especially, for two days of incredible music making. So as we begin the Dave Slonaker Big Band, I hope you will come along and enjoy the journey.

Special thanks to: Rich Breen fou your artistry and musicianship, David Bell, Peter Rotter, Sandra Kipp, Paula Slavatore, Gary Wasserman; Ron Vermillion, Tim Rodier, Bob Skinnell at Reprise Music Services; Jim Ciancaglini at Valle Music, Alex Chaloff, Carolyn Devine and a special thank you to Vinita Voogd for your art.

Very special thanks not only to all the musicians who played on the album but to all others who helped at rehearsals. And to all who helped with advice and counsel along the way… my heartfelt thanks.

No artist creates in vacuum – we are listeners and learners of crafts that are passed from one generation to the next. The list to thank everyone who has helped and influenced me along the way would be long… there is a danger of leaving someone out. And sadly, some are no longer with us. A profound thanks, then, to my family, friends, and teachers through the years. Your love, friendship, and teaching are in the sounds and melodies heard in this album.

And a special thanks to Nancy… Your love, kindness, and patience are inspiring.

Finally, I would like to dedicate this album of music to my parents, Joan and Charles.

Dave Slonaker

Track Listing:

1. Intrada (David Slonaker) 6:53

2. It’s Only A Paper Moon (Harold Arlen / E.Y. “Yip” Harburg / Billy Rose) 6:35

3. Nite Lites (David Slonaker) 7:17

4. Nowhere Is Sometime Thing (David Slonaker) 6:32

5. Point Of Departure (David Slonaker) 7:41

6. Timelessness (David Slonaker) 7:27

7. Labyrinth Suite, Pt. 1: Labyrinth (David Slonaker) 7:14

8. Labyrinth Suite, Pt. 2: Flight Time (David Slonaker) 7:20

9. If And Only If (David Slonaker) 3:51

10. Remembering (David Slonaker) 6:31


Dave Slonaker Big Band:

Bob Sheppard: alto sax, soprano sax, flute, clarinet
Brian Scanlon: alto sax, flute, piccolo, clarinet
Rob Lockart: tenor sax, clarinet
Tom Luer: tenor sax, clarinet
Adam Schroeder: baritone sax, bass clarinet

Wayne Bergeron: trumpet, flugelhorn
Dan Fornero (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10): trumpet, flugelhorn
Rick Baptist (5, 6, 9): trumpet, flugelhorn
Clay Jenkins: trumpet, flugelhorn
Ron Stout: trumpet, flugelhorn

Alex Iles: trombone
Bob McChesney: trombone
Charlie Morillas: trombone
Bill Reichenbach: bass trombone, bass trumpet

Ed Czach: piano
Edwin Livingston: bass
Peter Erskine: drums

Recorded December 7-8, 2012, at Studio A, Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA
Produced by Dave Slonaker
Mixed & Mastered by Rich Breen
Cover Art, “Song III” by Vinita Voogd
Cover design & layout by John Bishop


Don’t be put off by the name. Intrada, composer / arranger Dave Slonaker points out, is “a musical form often composed as a prelude, overture or fanfare,” one whose upbeat phrases give rise to an exhilarating curtain-raiser on Slonaker’s initial big-band recording. Rest assured this is a world-class ensemble and there’s no doubt whose steady hand is at the helm: Slonaker wrote every number save the standard “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and arranged the complete package. 
If Slonaker’s name is new to you, that’s probably because he has spent much of his career as a composer, arranger and orchestrator in films and television. Film credits include Spider-Man, Air Force One, Oz the Great and Powerful, Alice in Wonderland and A Night at the Museum, and he has written for the TV series J.A.G., Murder She Wrote and others. Slonaker has also taught at USC and the Eastman School of Music, while his jazz works have been performed by Clark Terry, the Woody Herman and Count Basie orchestras, and many others. 
All of which leads to this consistently impressive album in which Slonaker’s vibrant and graceful themes are precisely and eloquently animated by a phalanx of the Los Angeles area’s most talented and sought-after musicians. Noteworthy c.v. aside, it’s clear from the outset that Slonaker has a jazz musician’s soul and a sure command of the music’s language and history. His music is contemporary in the best sense of the word, harmonically sophisticated yet always accessible thanks to an unswerving reliance on time-honored melodies and rhythms. In other words, this is big-band jazz that quickens the pulse, swings hard and enhances the tradition. 
“Intrada” and “Paper Moon” are followed by eight more of Slonaker’s inspired compositions, each of which provides a malleable springboard for the ensemble’s resourceful soloists. Those who rise to the occasion include saxophonists Bob Sheppard, Adam Schroeder and Rob Lockart; trumpeters Clay Jenkins and Ron Stout, trombonists Bob McChesney and Alex Iles, bass trombonist Bill Reichenbach, pianist Ed Czach, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer par excellence Peter Erskine. There’s no point in singling out any particular song for immoderate praise, as every one is outstanding, as is the ensemble.

Jack Bowers (AllAboutJazz)