Ed Partyka Jazz Orchestra

In The Tradition
(Neuklang)

Originally from Chicago, multi-instrumentalist Ed Partyka has been based in Europe since the early 1990s, and has contributed to recordings by Lalo Schifrin, Bob Brookmeyer’s New Art Orchestra and Carla Bley. He’s also led his own orchestra since 2007 and chairs the Jazz Institute in Graz, Austria. Although Brookmeyer was his mentor, Partyka’s writing is more conventional than the elder’s classical-inspired later work. And on In The Tradition, Partyka’s six charts often feature dense and crowded works played by the 11 brass, six reeds and three rhythm musicians.

The music always swings.

“Charlie Chan” opens the set with shouts from the ensemble, some drum breaks and a tenor solo over the band’s stop-time rhythm. The momentum never slows during the trumpet, trombone and tenor improvisations; unfortunately, the soloists go unidentified. “Photographs” features singer Julia Oschewsky, whose voice Partyka surrounds with picturesque colors. “Sophisticated Lady” shows off the leader’s writing at its best, with the French horn playing the melody and an altoist soloing over brass backing. Partyka’s “Trouble & Woe” has a soulful and infectious theme that the Don Ellis or Buddy Rich orchestras (circa 1970) could have a fun time with. Oschewsky returns for a rousing rendition of “The Great City,” and the program closes with “3 O’Clock Blues,” a joyous lowdown piece with muted trumpet and preaching alto at the forefront.