Legendary Cleveland saxophonist Ernie Krivda recently released a new album entitled A Bright and Shining Moment on Capri Records. Recorded with his Swing City septet, the album collects vintage recordings of the group at its prime shortly before it disbanded in 2002. The resulting product is a sterling package of classic standards, largely arranged by Krivda, and Krivda originals that exemplified the group’s mission to “create its own world of Swinging Jazz, Blues and Ballads with references from the four corners of the jazz tradition.” To celebrate the release, the saxophonist will lead a quartet of Cleveland guitarist Brent Hamker and Columbus bassist Roger Hines and drummer Reggie Jackson on Friday, July 20th at 10pm at Dick’s Den. Cover is $5. Keep reading for my thoughts on this excellent album that has thankfully been rescued from the archives.
While Krivda is firmly established as a top-rank tenor saxophone titan, part of the magic of A Bright and Shining Moment is that his artful mastery of the horn is presented alongside his formidable composing and arranging skills. Opener “Limehouse Blues” quickly expands from a nimble excursion to a full-bore romp, and both Krivda and pianist Joe Hunter shine with full-bodied finesse in the limelight before exciting call and response from paired voices in the ensemble. Gershwin’s “Summer Time” is rendered in a classic stomp, with the late Marshall Baxter Beckley offering pitch-perfect swing vocals. Drummer Rick Porrello’s swing era toms usher in the title track, a Krivda original, which settles into a zesty blowing session with spirited starring roles for Krivda, the legendary late trombonist Gary Carney, pianist Hunter and bassist Marion Hayden. Written in honor of his uncle Joe’s 75th birthday, Krivda’s “Easter Blue” is a lovingly created ballad, drawing on the saxophonist’s timeless yearning tone and powered by subdued colors from Carney and Hunter.
Swing City digs into their love of Ellingtonia on “Caravan” – Chris Anderson’s trombone is given a slightly distant sound that casts a cinematic shadow, and drummer John Bacon’s toms loom large over climactic sections from the ensemble. Bassist Marion Hayden is warm and lively out front of Krivda’s arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Little Old Lady,” which also reveals well-honed small group dynamics. Krivda’s swinging “Hangin’ With The Hoosiers” is built on the changes of “Back Home Again In Indiana,” and Hunter displays a particular athletic elegance on his solo before Bacon’s drums niftily pair with the pared down ensemble to magical effect. Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You” moves at a gentle pace, but the sparkling key-work of Hunter give it an infectious, irrepressible swagger. The duet of Krivda and Hayden on bass, with tender accents by the septet, on Carmichael’s “Two Sleepy People” is an apt finale, again showcasing Krivda’s timeless saxophone and the top-flight ensemble work of the group.
Ernie Krivda and Swing City’s A Bright and Shining Moment is a superb release that captures Krivda and a star-studded Northeast Ohio cast at the height of its powers. Alongside outstanding music, the CD is also highly recommended for the detailed liner notes that tell the story of the music and Swing City – pick one up at the show or from Amazon and elsewhere!