Mike Treni & Jazz Composers' Workshop Orchestra
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Mike Treni & Jazz Composers' Workshop Orchestra

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"Detour!: Jazz Composer's Workshop Orchestra Plays the Music of Mike Treni"

Review by Thomas R. Erdmann

"Composer, trombonist, educator and leader of the Jazz Composer’s Workshop Orchestra, Mike Treni did his schooling at both the Berklee College of Music and the University of Miami. After playing professionally for a number of years and finishing his schooling, Treni eventually took a position at Berklee where he taught arranging and trombone. A move to New York found Treni playing jazz gigs, working in Broadway show pit orchestras and with his own group, Jazz Horizons Orchestra.
In 1985 Treni left music to create a business working in wireless audio and language interpretation systems. Upon retirement, Treni formed the big band group heard here on Detour! Comprised of New York musicians, many of whom are familiar names, this recording is a delight.
Treni, the composer and arranger of all seven compositions, culled this collection from music he has written during the last 30 years. The range runs from the oldest composition, “Magic Of Becoming,” written in 1973, to “Detour,” written for this group in 2006.
The prominent soloists are Gerry Niewood, known to most as the saxophonist with Chuck Mangione during the flugelhornist’s earliest recordings as a leader, and trumpeter-flugelhornist Freddie Hendricks. Niewood has never sounded better. His alto sax blasts out ringing tones of heavenly beauty infused with strength of sound and soul this critic has never heard him play with before. In addition, his much too short piccolo solo “New Millennium” is incredible. This recording is worthy for his marvelous solos alone. Hendricks has a warm flugelhorn sound and turns in a number of ripping solos as well.
The best thing about this recording, however, is the excitement and cantankerous emotion with which the ensemble plays. While every chart is great, “Wigglepuss” has enough flag-waving trombone section pedals, high trumpet notes and swinging saxophone compassion to last one through many cold winter nights.
While everything Treni writes is great, it’s perhaps his writing skill for the trombone section that stands out the most. The lines he fashions in “New Millennium” and “The Man For Me” show he truly understands all the capabilities of his axe. From sublime sectional softs, to kicking low notes in the fourth trombone part, to digging and hip lead lines, Treni makes them work their butts off. You know those guys had to be having a blast playing those parts.
In this, an era of so little great big band music, besides the work of Maria Schneider, this disc rocks."

Copyright© 2008 JazzReview.com®. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
- JazzReview.Com


Detour! JCWO plays the music of Mike Treni, Unity
available at CD Baby http://cdbaby.com/cd/miketreni



Visit any metropolitan area and you are sure to find at least one rehearsal band – a group of jazz musicians that get together on a regular basis to play big-band arrangements of popular jazz tunes. Places like New York City boast dozens of such groups. Usually, one individual, someone who has accumulated some music, often copied from another band’s book or transcribed from a commercial recording, organizes a rehearsal band. Occasionally the organizer is a composer/arranger whose sole desire is to play the music that they themselves write.

For players who are also writers, joining a typical rehearsal band can be a frustrating experience. Most bands play what the leader wants while the other players are apt to prefer their old favorites. Player/writers who bring new music to a rehearsal are often given a chilly reception. The leader may agree to read through a new work, but will rarely spend rehearsal time trying to polish the performance.

So it was that in October 2005 three frustrated player-writers from the New York metro area, Larry Puentes, Richard Reiter, and Mike Treni, got together to discuss the formation of a new kind of rehearsal band, one created specifically to meet the needs of player/writers. Appropriately the group was named “Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra.”

JCWO began rehearsing in January 2006. During its first three years of existence the band recorded 2 CDs, played in area jazz clubs, and most importantly provided a “composers’ workshop” for its member-players.

Now entering its fourth year, the Jazz Composers' Workshop Orchestra is set to release its third CD featuring tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi.