Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra: Dickie's Dream


Dickie's Dream


Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra


We Are MTO (Mowo 3204)

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Steven Bernstein (trumpet),

Clark Gayton (trombone), Doug Wieselman (clarinet), Peter Apfelbaum (tenor sax), Erik Lawrence (baritone sax), Matt Munisteri, Doug Wamble (guitars), Charles Burnham (violin), Ben Allison (bass), Ben Perowsky (drums)


Composed by Count Basie & Lester Young


Recorded: Brooklyn, NY, May 23-24, 2005


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra can play an old territory band-type of arrangement with the precision of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, or take a looser, more progressive and playful route, such as Sun Ra would with a Fletcher Henderson piece. Years of honing their skills at the Tonic club on New York's Lower East Side have given the MTO formidable expressive power, unlimited flexibility and great rapport.

Basie's orchestra of course began as a territory band, and the classic "Dickie's Dream" was first recorded in 1939 by Basie's smaller Kansas City Seven, featuring solos by Buck Clayton, Lester Young and Dickie Wells. Bernstein based his arrangement, however, on the all-star big band fronted by Basie on CBS-TV's memorable The Sound of Jazz special from 1957. (In his liner notes, Bernstein mistakenly credits the 1957 arrangement to Andy Gibson; it was in fact written by Nat Pierce.) A Freddie Green-styled guitar riff and bustling drum accents launch the track, and the band enters playing the insistent theme with an authentic-sounding harmonic texture. A guitar fill precedes Gayton's fluently swinging trombone solo, unrelenting guitar riffs spurring him on. Burnham's slow-burning violin improv invokes both Claude Williams and Stuff Smith, as horn figures blare behind him. Apfelbaum grabs your attention from his first pungent phrase, which he then embellishes and amplifies creatively for the rest of his solo. Guitarist Wamble is next, in a Django Reinhardt mode, followed by Munisteri leaning more towards Charlie Christian. The band drops in still more riffs as the guitars exchange gliding passages. The wailing out chorus is riveting, augmented by Perowsky's rousing and unfettered big band drumming.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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