The Reviews Are Coming In
Reviews - Very Early
Angeles Jazz Scene, March 2004
Of all the jazz styles to emerge since 1920, West Coast cool jazz has been (next to fusion) the critics, partly because it was based in Los Angeles rather than New York. Ever since it became overshadowed by hard bop by 1960, cool jazz has become almost extinct, living on only in the playing of some of its surviving practitioners and at Ken Poston's memorable jazz festivals. One can hear it played today by the Dave Pell Octet and the Phil Norman Tentet (though the latter group has modernized in recent times) but otherwise it mostly survives as a subtle influence rather than a separate style.
Octobop hopes to change all that. The Northern California-based octet's second release features four Gerry Mulligan pieces ("Rocker," "Walkin' Shoes," "Night Lights" and "Jeru") plus selections by Marty Paich, Bill Holman, Bud Shank, Shorty Rogers, Art Pepper, Dave Pell and Neal Hefti. The leader, Geoff Roach, adapted the majority of the arrangements for the group so these versions are not mere copies of the past. None of the musicians (which include Roach on baritone, alto and bass sax, trumpeter Randy Smith and Matt Kesner on reeds) are particularly well known but their solos are concise and meaningful, and the sound of the ensembles perfectly fit the style. The players have a real feel for the West Coast idiom.
This set, available from www.octobop.com, is well worth checking out.
-- Scott Yanow
Night Lights 4/4
O's Notes: Octobop is an octet that has resurrected the cool West Coast jazz sound. The band has a warm brass section that really swings. It's big band sound in a smaller package - it allows each of the member to step forward. The title is a replication of one of Gerry Mulligan's albums and much of the music here was written and arranged by Gerry. It doesn't take long for you to start snapping your fingers or bobbing your head. The cool swing element is well rooted in each song.-- D. Oscar Groomes O's Place Jazz Newsletter
it Again -- new and improved.
With the introduction of Octobop's new CD, "Night Lights," leader Geoff Roach again leads his octet through a classy set of tunes that everyone will enjoy. The band has a full new sound with even better balance than on their first CD. It's a fresh approach to modern classic jazz. You won't be disappointed.
Most of the great arrangements were by Roach himself. "Girl Talk," textured and tasty, is a masterpiece. It's hard to believe that this old song could be so fresh once again.
Randy Smith on trumpet and flugelhorn contributes splendidly to the new sound. "Blue Mist" sparkles with Darrell Jefferson's muted trombone and Roach's bass sax. Vocalist Nancy Gilliland does a masterful job on the title track, a Gerry Mulligan composition.
Over 50 minutes of great music. It's what jazz is all about. It's a winner.
-- Alan Scharf; co-creator of "Jazz at Massey Hall."
What people are saying about Octobop:
"Octobop captures the essence of California cool blended with a modern sensibility". - Ted Gioia - Author of West Coast Jazz and The History of Jazz.
"Your music is very lovable. Good ensemble playing as well. It's great that you are playing this music today." - Howard Rumsey, Leader, Lighthouse All Stars
"Octobop's music is infused with fire and seduction, delivered with good taste and freshness. Its ripened high-density swing feel is driven by genuine exuberance and appealing arrangements. A band to be dug!" - Dr. Herb Wong, Author and Educator
"Octobop's "Too Close for Comfort CD is a great one. If you like California, you'll love this CD. Cool as a cucumber. Buy it. Every CD should have a great recorded sound like this one. Wonderful presence. You know all the tunes. There are no obscure "original compositions" here. Everyone solos in this beautifully paced package. Excellent arrangements with just the right touch of humor. Bernie's Tune goes beyond Mulligan. The voicing is so comfortable with the refreshing vibes/guitar sound replacing the usual piano for a special added punch. You'll tap your foot from beginning to end, and back again." - Alan Scharf, Co-creator, Jazz at Massey Hall
"For lovers of the West Coast sound , and over here in the UK
there are many as the sound seems to strike a chord with the European jazz listener, the
arrival of a band like Octobop is like a breath of fresh air. This band recreates the
sound of the West Coast of those glorious days of the 50's while still leaving there own
individual mark on the music. Octobop's first CD 'Too Close For Comfort' will be welcomed
by lovers of good West Coast music not only here in the UK, but world wide. For 'this'
listener the tunes brought a smile to my face and that should be recommendation enough for
others to go get a copy of the CD and see if it gives you as it did me that nostalgic feel
for the good old days. Congratulations Octobop looking forward to the next release
already." - Glyn Marsh, World Jazz Network, United Kingdom
"This eight-piece outfit makes you feel like you're starring in a personalized version of LA Confidential. Led by Bill Hazzard's vibes, they pursue a pleasing mix of swing and West Coast Cool that's closer to an update of Red Norvo's '40s pre-Cool band than Shorty Rogers' challenging, modernist swing. Close your eyes...the dish your dancing with makes you forget the trouble you're in for a few fleeting moments." - Review on Lycos
"It's easy to listen to Octobop. They put fun into west coast jazz" - Walt Johnson, lead trumpet player with Shorty Rogers and Frank Sinatra.
combo was led by baritone saxophonist Geoff Roach who played
twelve themes from the 50s. Among them Art Pepper's "Minor
Yours", Bud Shank's "Cotton Blossom", Dave
Pell-Marty Paich's "Prom to Prom", and also four songs
from Gerry Mulligan's pen: Rocker, Walkin' Shoes, Night Lights,
and Jeru. Geoff Roach arranged beautifully "Walkin'
Shoes" and "Night Lights". - Gerard Dugelay -
Featured in the San Jose Mercury News - Jazz Perspectives by Reese Erlich - http://www.bayarea.com/entertainment/jazz/artist/octobop/index.html
We get e-mail:
"Night Lights arrived yesterday.....the covering was stripped off, placed in computer CD slot, and off we went to the races as I worked at my desk. Lovely, enchanting, lifted my spirits, got my foot tapping, and got me to sing along with the charts.....how nice that was!"
"Received your CD "Night Lights" yesterday. It is a fine recording and I am enjoying it very much."
"Night Lights arrived today. It's wonderful. Reminds me so much of Miles/Mulligan/Rogers, but sounds so fresh and new."
"I went on Octobop web site and I discovered that this album seems very > interesting, four Mulligan songs and a lot of famous West coast themes. As "official researcher of Mulligan recordings", I would like to add your famous album at my collection"
"I was given a copy of Octobop's latest CD "Night Lights" as a gift and want to commend its cool, smooth sound. The ensemble has richer resonance than many jazz groups with eight (octo!) musicians comprising a powerful horn section sound, and also including vibes, guitar--and vocals on some of the tracks. The arrangements by band leader Geoff Roach are beautifully crafted, and Octobop delivers them in a modern style while retaining the character of the many great tunes which have become classics over the decades--shades of Mulligan, Shank, and Ellington. True professional jazz music culture from Silicon Valley!" - Review on Amazon.com
"Night Lights sounds wonderful. What a joy making this recording must have been."
"Let's start with the performance. As I listened, I was taken back to the early days of the birth of the "cool!" The material sounded as fresh now, as Miles, Mulligan and company played it then."
"How can we thank you enough for playing at our party! You were fabulous! Everyone was very impressed with your music."
"You have a very nice group. I
know that it is a kick to work with a group that plays that much Be Bop."
"Wow. This is fantastic. Smooth, beautiful."
"Song forced my foot into this strange tapping motion."
"Updated Thin Man music. Makes me want a cocktail. Love it!"
"Some of the smoothest jazz i've heard on this site...it's a candlelight song..."
"Reminded me of a night in autumn in the 1940's surrounded by art deco and Hollywood glamor. Nice work!"
"This is smooth, smokey stuff. Exciting and reserved - it doesn't get much better than this"
"I'm cuddled on the couch with hubby, sipping Champagne, the fire is crackling and the snow is blowin hard.. Yep, I'm RELAXIN!!!"
"Smooooooooth jazz with a big band line. This stuff would have been playing at Mama's if Peter Gunn had known the band. Kick back and groove."
"Man, I can smell the old cigar and brandy! Great feel, love this classic style. Bass player walks like crazy... Confident, inspired soloing."
I love it. It is relaxing without being boring. I would defenitely listen to it on my way home every day.