Brooklyn Big Band
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Brooklyn Big Band

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Jazz


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"Brooklyn Big Band "Live At Sweet Rhythm" Candid Records"

Led by saxophonists, composers and arrangers Craig Bailey and Tim Armacost, the rousing, modern-minded yet hard-swinging 16-piece Brooklyn Big Band has issued a fiery, deeply musical debut CD. Armacost’s brisk “Long Haired Girl” boasts ardent ensemble remarks alongside the theme, and the composer solos with customary invention and verve. Trumpeter Riley Mullins also sparkles. Armacost’s ballad “Animated” mixes telling saxophone statements with engaging band lines. Bailey’s “East of Enid” runs from hearty David Berkman piano to tender ensemble thoughts. “Quiet Time” is a moving bossa, with warm Bailey alto.
The band plays Monday, and May 3 and 17 (and most alternate Mondays) at 9 p.m. at the Cafe Iguana, 240 W. 54th St., New York. Call (212) 765-5454 or visit
— Zan Stewart
- Newark Star-Ledger

"New York@Night - Brooklyn Big Band"

After three years (on and off) of obscure gigs in
Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Big Band (BBB), co-led by alto
saxist Craig Bailey and tenor man Tim Armacost, had
its long-awaited Manhattan debut at Sweet Rhythm
(Aug. 2nd, 2004). The band struck a balance between tight
and loose, beginning with an off-the-cuff “Take the
Coltrane” and ending with Bailey’s greasy “My Blues”
(complete with a bracing scat chorus from trumpeter
Larry Gillespie). In the BBB’s ranks are fine players
who should be better known: Bailey and Mark Gross
on altos; Armacost and Keith Loftis on tenors; Charlie
Evans on baritone; Jason Jackson, Dion Tucker, Tim
Albright and Johannes Pfannkuch on bones; Gillespie,
Jamal Monteilh, James Zollar and Matt Shulman on
trumpets; Kelvin Shollar on piano; Phil Palombi on
bass and Lieven Venken on drums. Armacost stepped
up for a feature (and a sharp-witted cadenza) on his
ballad “Animated,” which was followed by Jason
Jackson’s bright “Brazilian Bop;” then an Al Cohn
arrangement of “You Don’t Know What Love Is,”
featuring Gillespie on flugelhorn, and finally the
uptempo “40-Pound Limit”, a showcase for Bailey and
Gross’ dueling altos. Merging a seamless ensemble
attack with the flexibility of a combo, the BBB can
compete with any of its peers on Manhattan isle.

- David Adler
- All About Jazz

"Brooklyn Big Band Never Fails to Serve Up Originals"

NEW YORK -- Delivering challenging, engaging originals with spirit, conviction and poise, the Brooklyn Big Band played a solid first set Monday at the Cafe Iguana in New York. The 16-piece modern mainstream band, another top-rate large ensemble on the New York-New Jersey jazz scene, was formed in 2000 by saxophonists, composers and arrangers Tim Armacost and Craig Bailey. They met in the early 1990s at a jam session at the club Dean Street in Brooklyn and played there regularly, often with many of the musicians who joined the "BBB."
"The energy in those sessions was so great that Craig and I wanted to try and put it in some kind of container," Armacost said after Monday's first set -- for which altoist Bailey, out on the road, was subbed by Hayes Greenfield.
The result, the BBB, has performed at several New York area clubs, including Sweet Rhythm between 2003 and 2006, and at the Iguana since February -- where it plays most Mondays, including this coming Monday and June 1. Visit for information. The band's debut CD, "Live at Sweet Rhythm" (Candid), is due out "any day now," said Armacost, whose website is
His "I'm Happy Anyway" was Monday's opener. As on each of the numbers, the music had a subtle-to-powerhouse drive provided by the writing, the horn players and the ace rhythm team: keyboardist Mike Eckroth, bassist Phil Palombi and drummer Scott Neumann.
The medium-paced tune began with lilting passages from Armacost's soprano saxophone, Terry Goss' flute, and muted trombone and trumpet -- Mike Fahn and Riley Mullins, respectively. Gradually, more instruments were added, and the theme, with low-range saxes as a tantalizing bottom, came across lush and full. A pronounced band swell led to a strong held note, then trumpeter Waldron Ricks' solo.
The trumpeter stretched out -- as did other improvisers throughout the set -- making the performance part large ensemble, part jazz quartet. Working a la Freddie Hubbard, Ricks' offered beguiling streams, hard-hit high notes, and more. Neumann kicked him all the way, and occasional band backdrops added interest.
Baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall also let loose, his tone rich and dark, his enticing ideas running from colorful, songlike bits and long, animated statements to high gleaming tones.
The alluring "Ascent" -- another by Armacost, who has a masters in composition from Queens College, City University of New York -- again started with a few players, with others gradually arriving. It also started slowly, then got faster. Here, valve trombonist Fahn scored with a wealth of melodically juicy utterances and Mullins with some intricate high-end sounds. Over a sinuous bossa beat, alto saxophonist Greenfield was moving with singing-toned missives, gritty swirls, and dashing, intricate statements.
Bailey's "Soul Bossa Nova" had a slow, emotive theme via tenor saxophonist Keith Loftis, who soloed with warmth here, ardency there. The finale was Armacost's speedy "Long Haired Girl," evincing his vital tone, formidable technique and robust, inventive ideas that never seemed to repeat themselves.
Zan Stewart is the Star-Ledger's jazz writer. He is also a musician who occasionally performs at local clubs. He may be reached at or at (973) 324-9930. - Newark Star-Ledger

"Craig Bailey-Tim Armacost Brooklyn Big Band Live at Sweet Rhythm Candid Records"

The 17-piece Brooklyn Big Band, formed in 2000, is heavy on saxophone players, starting with its leaders, Craig Bailey (alto and flute) and Tim Armacost (tenor and clarinet). As displayed on this debut recording, Bailey and Armacost’s conception is to explore contemporary possibilities for the big band, in part by reviewing the past. The unsigned liner notes say of the disc’s longest track, “Take the Coltrane,” “This performance encapsulates a lot of what the group is trying to achieve,” which might be summarized as trying to answer the musical question, “What would Duke Ellington and His Orchestra have sounded like if John Coltrane had been their saxophonist in the 1960s?” “Take the Coltrane” is generously credited to Ellington as composer (notwithstanding that “Take the ‘A’ Train” was written by Billy Strayhorn), and while there isn’t much Ellington in it, it does attempt to reinterpret mature Coltrane in a big-band context.
But that’s really only one track in a quite varied set. Trombonist Jason Jackson’s “Brazilian Bop” brings in the inevitable Latin tinge prior to “Take the Coltrane,” in what is basically a history lesson that makes up the first section of the disc, following the bravura opener, “Long Haired Girl.” Bailey’s palate-cleansing “East of Enid” inaugurates a mellow midsection for the album, giving David Berkman a chance to make like a New Age pianist before he joins in with a delicate flute line. Armacost’s big moment is his unaccompanied solo late in the melodic “Animated,” after which Bailey makes the argument that his old boss Ray Charles represented a valid strain of big-band jazz in “Quiet Time” and “My Blues.” Whether or not that’s true, the Brooklyn Big Band fully delivers on its claim to be an evolution of the big-band sound here.
- JazzTimes Magazine


Live at Sweet Rhythm
Candid Records CCD71803
Released October 1, 2009



Saxophonists Tim Armacost and Craig Bailey formed the Brooklyn Big Band to harness the powerful energy of a core group of musicians who were regulars at Bailey’s Dean Street jam session in the early nineties. Their vision has resulted in an explosive live recording from New York’s famed club, Sweet Rhythm. The co-leaders are committed to presenting new music primarily written and arranged by group members. Performances are marked by an electric mixture of exceptional rhythm section playing, spontaneous creation of compositional elements, and disciplined ensemble work. The band recently completed a 14-month engagement at Café Iguana in Times Square.

The BBB had its first regular gig in the spring and summer of 2001, playing at Caviar, a new music club near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. One of the early performances was profiled by the WB Network, New York Television’s channel 11, for its evening newscast. After a hiatus, the group had its second weekly gig at Atlantic Avenue’s Po’k Knockers, for most of the year 2003. The band had its Manhattan debut in the summer of 2004, with two sold out Monday nights at Sweet Rhythm. The success of the Manhattan shows led to regular performances at Sweet Rhythm. In the summer of 2007, the BBB performed a program of famed producer Teo Macero’s music at Birdland, which became one of the final performances attended by Mr. Macero before his passing at the end of the year.

Regular personnel includes:

Saxophones Trumpets
Craig Bailey Shawn Edmonds
Mark Gross Riley Mullins
Tim Armacost Waldron Ricks
Keith Loftis Gregory Rivkin
Terry Goss

Trombones Rhythm Section
Isrea Butler David Berkman, piano
Matt McDonald Joris Teepe or Bill Moring, bass
Mike Fahn Bruce Cox, Gene Jackson, or
Erick Storckman Lieven Venken, Drums

To promote the Sweet Rhythm gigs, the BBB made a second television appearance on the Fox News Channel’s Sunday morning program, “Fox and Friends.”

“Live at Sweet Rhythm is the group’s first disc and it’s a splendid debut from one of the best kept secrets in town. Full of thorny charts and impassioned, raucous playing, the record never lags. Much of the fun comes from the space Armacost and Bailey leave in their writing (the sole standard – Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane” – for example, is given only the barest framework and largely improvised every show. As a result, most everything the band plays, be it screaming blues or barn-burning bop, sounds like a sudden discovery: fresh, vibrant, innovative and – dare we say it – new.”

Brandt Reiter
All About Jazz