Exposé Online banner

Lisa Maxwell's Jazz Orchestra — Shiny!
(Uncle Marvin Music, 2019, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-03-03

Shiny! Cover art

There was a time (before the birth of most readers of this website) when the big band was the primary unit of both jazz and popular music. Hundreds of groups consisting of 16 or more musicians toured the country and recorded the biggest hits of the day. But by the 50s, such large ensembles were becoming unsustainable, with the costs of supporting so many players out of reach for all but a few elite groups led by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, and a handful of others. But even aside from the nostalgia associated with music from that time, the combination of instruments involved (trumpets, trombones, and saxophones with a rhythm section) seems to have a lasting appeal. Even after the Big Band Era was past, the sounds survived on movie soundtracks, incorporating elements of rock and soul under the arranging pens of masters like Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones. Lisa Maxwell is a Los Angeles native with a background in jazz and in soundtrack work, and Shiny! is her debut as leader of a purely musical project. For it she has recruited an elite cadre of players including Randy Brecker (trumpet), Will Lee (bass), Paul Schaffer (piano), Mike Stern (guitar), Oz Noy (guitar), Mark Egan (bass), Danny Gottlieb (drums), and many more, with personnel varying somewhat from track to track. Maxwell touches on a number of different styles with her arrangements, with several tracks sounding like high-class refugees from 70s movie soundtracks, infusing a bit of funk into spy themes. You’ll also hear touches of New Orleans, a breezy jazz waltz, a lush ballad with vocals from Kenya Hathaway, and swinging romps that could have come out of the early 60s. What you won’t hear is anything edgy or avant-garde, so some listeners might find it a bit on the tame side in spite of the quality of the playing. All of the soloists acquit themselves well, and Maxwell’s sophisticated voicings provide lots of variations on the possibilities presented by the instrumentation. I would say that Maxwell has a bright future in soundtrack work, but she’s got a bright past as well, and Shiny! is above all fun.


Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Oz Noy, Pete Levin, Randy Brecker, Ada Rovatti, Lisa Maxwell

Latest news

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Indigo - Silent Memories – One cannot listen to Indigo's latest album without acknowledging that, while, good as some of these musical compositions might be, they tend to be spoiled by powdery and derivative lyrics sung in a...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues