Big Band Sound With Pizazz

Bruce Von Stiers

It seems like Big Band music never quite goes out of style. Not only are there groups playing this music at clubs, various universities have bands that specifically play Big Band era music. One such university is the University of Central Florida. They have a band that is called the Flying Horse Big Band.

The Flying Horse Big Band recently recorded their eighth album. Released on the university's Flying Horse Records label, the title of the album is Big Man On Campus. The album has a play time of sixty-six minutes and contains twelve songs.

The album features composer and tenor saxophonist Harry Allen. Also appearing on the album is tenor sax player Jeff Rupert and percussionist Jeff Moore. Rupert also produced the album, which was recorded at the Starke Lake Studios in Ocosse , Florida in May of 2016.

As the name suggests, this is a full scale big band. There are five saxophone players; Luke Stribling on alto, Andy Garcia on tenor and alto, Gabriel Wallace on tenor, Melanie Castro on tenor and clarinet and Saul Dautch on baritone sax. For trumpets there was Marco Rivera, Josh Toler and Courtney Normandin. Alex Lewis also played trumpet along with the flugelhorn. Christian Herrera, Lentzy Jean-Louis and Ryan Flint were on trombone. Matt Kerr played both tenor and bass trombone. For the rhythm section there was Mudel Honore on piano and organ, Luther Burke on upright and electric bass, Ryan Waszmer on guitar and Steve Estes on drums and auxiliary percussion.

Most of the songs on the album are original compositions. The others are by well-known composers and musicians.

The Henry Mancini classic Dreamsville is the first song. It is a nice and easy piece with great saxophone.

Harry Allen wrote the music and did the arrangements for June Song. This is a song that jazz pianist and vocalist Judy Carmichael wrote lyrics for. In fact, there are four other songs on the album that Judy and Harry collaborated on. This song has a nice, moderate pace and will definitely remind you of the big band era.

This Is My Lucky Day is the second Carmichael / Allen song. It starts out slow and easy then kicks things up so there is a fun, head bopping sound.

B.M.O.C. is a nice little groove that might remind you of some jazz from the 50's. Jeff Rupert wrote this song. It has a great guitar solo.

A slight bossa nova styling can be heard in Can You Love Once More? This is another Carmichael / Allen tune.

Yet another Carmichael / Allen song is A Lonely Breeze. Just like the title suggests it is a bit sad, but would be a great song to slow dance to.

I've been a Jobim fan ever since I heard The Girl From Impanema as a kid. The band does a great job with their rendition of Jobim's song Triste.

Partidio Blue is a Cuban flavored tune written by Michael Philip Mossman.

Move, Move, Move is a psychedelic funk piece written by British artist-composer Allan Hankshaw. While some of original tone has been kept in the song, the band here comes away with a mix that is a bit more jazz than funk. It is still a very cool piece.

This One For You is the last song on the album with a Carmichael/ Allen composition. It is a toe tapper with all of the sounds you would expect to hear in a big band song, especially the trumpet and saxophone. There is a nice guitar solo in the middle of the song.

Toe tapping and smile effecting music can be found in the band's rendition of the Billy Strayhorn classic song Raincheck.

As the final selection on the album there is an original composition by Jeff Rupert. It is titled The New Creole Love Call. It has a sound reminiscent of slower big band dance numbers.

If you like Big Band music with an extra touch of pizazz, then you will definitely like Big Man On Campus. I really liked the album, especially the Strayhorn and Jobim songs.

Big Man On Campus can be purchased on GooglePlay, iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.

To find out more about the Flying Horse Big Band, visit


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© 2017 Bruce E Von Stiers