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  • Jonathan Widran


No doubt the name David Angel is new on your jazz ensemble leader radar, but that’s okay, since even legendary Hollywood orchestrator Brad Dechter has said, “Angel is quite possibly the best composer you’ve never heard of.”

Would your ears perk up if you knew that Angel launched his career writing orchestrations for “Bonanza,” taught at conservatories in France and Switzerland and that the rehearsal band he launched in 1969 is finally, 52 years and many elite jazz musician members later, releasing its massive, 3-CD 22 track debut album Out on the Coast?

This expansive project – whose extensive packaging includes a booklet with insight on all 15 Angel originals and seven standards – was the brainchild of group member Jim Self, a tuba and bass trombone player whose storied career includes working on John Williams scores for 25 years.

Believing that Angel’s genius as a composer and arranger (he also plays tenor) had been overlooked too long, Self gathered the current 13-piece ensemble of top-flight players and soloists for a pre-pandemic four day session that’s both lush lyrical and moody (as on the laid back ballad “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” and the meditative “Autumn in New York”) but also, in its higher octane spots, wildly swinging frolic, fun and exultation (“Deep 2,” “Aw Rite!”, “Hershey Bar”).

At 2 hours and 46 minutes, the brilliance of Angel, Self, the band and music Self calls “Gil Evans meets JS Bach” on this ambitious collection flows freely, capturing all that “Angelic” magic on disc and streaming for, incredibly, the very first time.


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