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Audio Video

Commissions 2006


Program Notes

Personnel/Production Credits

Click on a title below to hear the recording in MP3 format (some titles not available).

Without a Doubt (7:09) Alan Baylock
SSG Derrick James, alto sax
SSG Vito Speranza, trumpet

Look for the Silver Lining (9:13) Jerome Kern, arr. Michael Abene
©2003 Hal Leonard Publishing, used with permission
SSG Scott Arcangel, piano
MSG Gary McCourry, bari sax

Reverse Peephole (7:35) SSG Scott Arcangel
SSG Mark Tonelli, guitar
SSG Vito Speranza, flugelhorn

Flag Waver (5:10) Andy Farber
SFC Harvey Tibbs, trombone
SSG Mike Reifenberg, alto sax

The Eternal Flame (5:38) Michael Philip Mossman
SSG Jermaine Malone, tenor sax
SFC Bob Jones, drums
SSG Craig Bitterman, percussion

Try Harder (4:06) Chris Walden
SSG Derrick James, alto sax
SSG Vito Speranza, trumpet

Lemon Juice (9:05) Dennis Mackrel
SSG Derrick James, alto sax
SSG Mark Tonelli, guitar
SFC Bob Jones, drums



This recording is the result of an ambitious commissioning and recording project undertaken by the Jazz Knights during 2005 and 2006. The prolific composers and arrangers whose works are featured on this CD include U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Alan Baylock, Andy Farber, Dennis Mackrel, Michael Philip Mossman, and Chris Walden. The Jazz Knights would like to acknowledge and thank additional composers Jeff Holmes, Russ Spiegel and Mike Fahie, whose outstanding commissions will be featured on a future release.

Without a Doubt is an up-tempo composition written by Air Force Master Sergeant Alan Baylock as a feature for alto saxophonist Staff Sergeant Derrick James and trumpeter Staff Sergeant Vito Speranza. Master Sergeant Baylock elaborates, “It's loosely based on the classic minor blues form, but I decided to divert quite a bit, and I also took the liberty of adding a slower “bridge” section. The title refers to the confidence that it takes musicians to perform a piece of music this difficult. The words 'without a doubt' also fit nicely with the opening four note motif that is restated throughout the chart. It's an honor to be able to write music for a band of this caliber and a band with such a rich history. Thanks for listening. I sincerely hope you enjoy it!”

One of two non-commissioned works on the CD, Michael Abene arranged Look for the Silver Lining, written by Buddy DeSylva and Jerome Kern. Mr. Abene combines traditional swinging figures with modern orchestration, employing several harmonic twists and turns along the way for something of a “Thad Jones meets Gil Evans” approach. Staff Sergeant Scott Arcangel takes an extended piano solo, followed directly by Master Sergeant Gary McCourry on baritone saxophone. According to Mr. Abene, this arrangement was originally written for a Jerome Kern tribute performed by the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, under the direction of trumpeter Jon Faddis with featured soloists Rene Rosnes on piano and Gary Smulyan on baritone saxophone. Mr. Abene stated, “I have always loved the music of Jerome Kern and was especially enthralled by the verse of Look for the Silver Lining. I envisioned this arrangement as a creative ensemble piece that would expand on the original 32 bar song form with the inclusion of the verse at the beginning of the arrangement.”

Staff Sergeant Scott Arcangel composed and arranged Reverse Peephole, the other of the two non-commissioned works. The title is from an episode of a popular television show in which the neurotic character reverses his peephole in order to avoid being ambushed in his home. The composition was written in reverse with the harmony written before the melody. Staff Sergeant Arcangel said, “I wanted to create an original set of chord changes that flowed naturally but not predictably. The changes move in a way that creates momentary tonal centers, although the piece is not in any specific key. The fun part was creating a lyrical melody that related to the changes in an engaging way, and then giving the soloists space to interpret them.”

Flag Waver is a 12-bar blues written and arranged for the Jazz Knights by saxophonist Andy Farber. The origin of this title is two-fold: it has patriotic implications, representing the Armed Forces, and as an up-tempo solo vehicle it makes for a good set closer, or “flag waver.” The piece is comprised of a one-note melody with descending and ascending inner parts. Trombonist Sergeant First Class Harvey Tibbs and alto saxophonist Staff Sergeant Mike Reifenberg contribute solos, followed by an energetic saxophone soli before the melody returns.

The Eternal Flame was composed and arranged by Michael Philip Mossman, known for his use of traditional Latin American rhythms. The Eternal Flame begins with a dramatic fanfare and features high energy ensemble passages based on a “Rhumba Flamenco.” The piece then goes directly into an infectious, full-fledged mambo featuring soloists Staff Sergeant Jermaine Malone on tenor saxophone and Sergeant First Class Bob Jones on drums, as well as guest Latin-percussionist Staff Sergeant Craig Bitterman.

Try Harder, composed by German native Chris Walden, is based on the chord changes to the popular standard There is No Greater Love. Mr. Walden stated, "When I was asked to write a piece for the Jazz Knights, I knew that I had to try hard to come up with something good that does this experienced and versatile band justice. So, I told myself: TRY HARDER!"

Drummer Dennis Mackrel is the composer of the final track, Lemon Juice. It begins with a gospel-flavored introduction, once again featuring Staff Sergeant Derrick James. After a short solo by Sergeant First Class Bob Jones, the tune explodes into hard-hitting funk. Lemon Juice features solos from Staff Sergeant James and Staff Sergeant Mark Tonelli on guitar. “The title comes from something my mother always used to say when things weren't going very well. She would say that you can either complain about the world, or 'you can take the lemons that life gives you and make lemon juice,” says Dennis. He was originally asked to write this composition for the Jazz Knights at a concert celebrating Black History Month, which featured guest drummer Billy Cobham. “In the African-American community, the church is very important. Sunday is the day you come together, give thanks to the Lord, and get prepared spiritually to deal with the week ahead, all of which inspired the gospel section. Then comes Monday, and you do the hard work of slogging through life and making lemon juice. That inspired the funky part!”



MSG Gary McCourry** - bari
SSG Derrick James* - alto
SSG David Loy Song - tenor
SSG Jay Malone - tenor
SSG Mike Reifenberg - alto
SGM (Ret.) Jim Perry - alto
(track 2)

MSG Ron Fleischman*
MSG Doug Remine
SFC Teddy Arnold - bass
SFC Harvey Tibbs

SSG Mark Bobnick*
SSG Vito Speranza
SSG Rich Johnson
SSG Denver Dill (tracks 3, 4 and 6)
SSG Bill Dunn (track 2)
SSG Josh Economy (tracks 1, 5 and 7)

Rhythm Section
SFC Bob Jones* - drums
SSG Scott Arcangel - piano
SSG Brandon Nelson - bass
(tracks 1, 5 and 7)
SSG Mark Tonelli - guitar
SSG Craig Bitterman - percussion
(track 5)
MSG (Ret.) Lou Pappas - bass
(tracks 2, 3, 4 and 6)

SFC Laura Bradley

** Group Leader
* Section Leader


Production Credits
Executive Producer - CW4 Douglas Hammond
Co-Producers - MSG David Hershey, SSG Mike Reifenberg
Photography - USMA Department of Information Management
Recording Engineer - SFC Blair Ferrier
Mastering Engineer - MSG David Hershey
Graphics and Text - MSG Gary McCourry, MSG Chris Eberle,
SSG David Loy Song, SSG Mark Tonelli



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