Exciting and satisfying, intelligent, yet soulful, traditional but contemporary, the Bruce Eskovitz Jazz Orchestra brings together all that is good and true in jazz today. Their Invitation summons music fans to a rousing good time. One that can be enjoyed over and over again, and should not be missed! BEJO features world-renowned jazz masters, led by veteran saxophonist and composer Dr. Bruce Eskovitz, who combined the power and soul of a big band with the agility of a small ensemble, producing music that is as exciting as it is beautiful. Variety is at the center of the band’s repertoire with original compositions and arrangements that cover the territory from Hard Bop to funk, and everything in between.
Bruce Eskovitz Jazz Orchestra: “Invitation’’ (Pacific Coast Jazz) ****
Here is a nearly flawless recording from someone likely unknown by most jazz fans. Who is Bruce Eskovitz and where has he been all our listening lives?
All Music Guide (www.allmusic.com) and other pre-release publicity tell us he’s a Los Angeles studio musician and educator, and appears regularly in LA area jazz clubs.
Though age is not mentioned, he is described as a “veteran’’ jazzman. On “Invitation,’’ Dr. Eskovitz (jazz musicians with doctorates usually like to make that known) is a saxophonist/flutist, composer and arranger. He is superb in all capacities, and leads a dektette, or “small’’ big band comprising five horns and five rhythm. They are, indeed, a lean, mean machine and make a good case for slimmed-down big bands, sounding like a large ensemble, as well as a combo.
The players mirror their leader’s talent, energy and spirit, and together and as soloists, soar through a highly varied, exciting and satisfying program of 10 tunes, seven penned by Eskovitz.
The CD is full of highlights involving everyone in the band, most of whose names--like the leader’s—probably won’t be recognized by many, if any, jazz listeners. Dr. Eskovitz is quite the discovery. A wailing tenor player (he’s also heard on soprano sax and alto flute on the CD), with a full-bodied sound, he plays with a jolting urgency, as well as sensitivity. His compositions reflect the completeness and versatility of his playing: Adventurous, yet accessible; hard driving, yet full of dynamic contrast. His arrangements often are surprising, even stunning, in their originality.
Standout among standouts is the haunting film theme that serves as the CD’s title, with its double-time rhythm churning beneath the slowly played theme, a dramatic stop-time or pause, and a scintillating brass section. There’s something for all tastes: Samba, jazz waltz, mambo, guitarist Herb Ellis’ transcendent, too seldom heard ballad “Detour Ahead,’’ a boss nova, some bebop (of course), a shuffle blues, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s fusion hit “Red Clay,’’ and a soulful, closing gospel tune.
EJazznews.com by Edward Blanco
October 31, 2007
Media Alert: Bruce Eskovitz, "Invitation" Street Date: JAN 29 2008 Pacific Coast Jazz PCJ75100
CD Review: My review of the Bruce Eskovitz CD was just posted at . ONE HELL Of A CD!
Loved it, wish you could send me more of this stuff. I have already played a couple of cuts this last Saturday between 6 and 8 pm "Saturday Date" program when I subed for the DJ who could not be there.
The second album from the Bruce Eskovitz Jazz Orchestra (BEJO), “Invitation” has it all. A riveting big band sound with gusto, the music roars out of the box with force and in brassy fashion. Containing a modern sound with a sprinkle of samba, salsa, a touch of the waltz and pleasant ballads, BEJO delivers a remarkable high octane performance laying down some terrific jazz.
The disc is just what the doctor ordered, it’s the type of medicine one doesn’t mind taking. The ten-piece BEJO is led by veteran saxophonist-composer and arranger Dr. Bruce Eskovitz who contributes seven original charts on this ten piece album.
The personnel include Billy Kerr (alto, flute), Larry Williams (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jeff Jarvis (trumpet, flugelhorn), Andrew Lippman (trombone), Ian Robbins (guitar), Mark Balling (keyboards), Adam Cohen (bass), Angel Figueroa (percussion) and Steve Barns (drums).
The program opens up with the breakout samba-shaded “Breakthrough,” introduced by Balling on the keys then taken over by Kerr on the flute and Eskovitz on alto flute. One of the best big band arrangements here is the spirited waltz of “Damien’s Dance,” which starts out with power and rumbles through in brassy style.
Bronislaw Kaper’s classic “Invitation” and title track is given a fresh new treatment here with some sizzling tenor phrasings from the leader. “Latin Fever” is an Eskovitz’s salsa that moves all over featuring Balling on the piano, the trumpet section, and percussions provided by Angel Figueroa.
Eskovitz slows it down a bit on Herb Ellis’s “Detour Ahead,” a beautiful ballad showcasing the leader on tenor. The entire album shines with gorgeous charts and excellent performances from the band. Other notable tunes include “Dialogue,” the soft “A Walk In The Park,” “Red Clay,” and the finale “One Last Time.”
”Besides having chops to burn, which enables him to play anything that comes to mind, Eskovitz plays with a fire and energy that makes the listener come back for seconds.” Billy Kerr, Saxophone Journal
“Bruce Eskovitz has a fat tone and a hard driving style” All music Guide, Scott Yanow
“Eskovitz...has chops to no end.” Frankie Nemco, Music Connection
“Eskovitz drew long twisted lines... into a string of Bird calls and bop-fired runs.”
Bill Kohlhasse, Los Angeles Times
“If Stan Kenton were alive today, he’d no doubt be leading the applause for the Bruce Eskovitz Jazz Orchestra.” Jack Bowers, All About Jazz.com
“Eskovitz’s arrangements and originals flow with a lyric often gritty grace...”
Chuck Berg, Lawrence Journal World
“The leader’s hot improvisation rocks the house with unbridled energy, as his orchestra follows suit with myriad harmonic layers.” Jim Santella, LA Jazz Scene
Performance Artists and Credits:
Joe Cocker, Natalie Cole, Freddie Hubbard, Doc Severinsen, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Jimmy Webb, Bill Watrous, Elliot Smith, Dwight Yoakum, Jane Monheit, The Fifth Dimension, Rita Moreno, Jack Jones, Bobby Vinton, and Ernie Watts, The Danny Gans Show, Frank Capp’s Juggernaut, and The New American Orchestra.
Recording and Television Credits:
Joe Cocker, Bill Watrous, Elliot Smith, Dwight Yoakum, Ernie Watts, Bill Mays, Charlie Shoemake, Shelly Berg, Ray Drummond, Larance Marable, Christian Jacob, The Merv Griffin Show, The John Davidson Show, The Ebony/Jet Celebrity Showcase, the ABC TV show Santa Barbara, and Ollie Mitchell's Sunday Band.
One for Newk II 2008 Pacific Coast Jazz
Invitation 2007 Pacific Coast Jazz
Regions 2003 Backstage Records
Conversations 2001 Azica Records
One For Newk 1995 Koch Jazz
Bruce Eskovitz 1990 Cexton Records
Windfall 1988 Windfall Records
Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Composition, University of Southern California
Masters Degree in Jazz Studies, University of Southern California
Bachelors of Arts Degree in Music, California State University Northridge
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