Exposé Online banner

The Ed Palermo Big Band — A Lousy Day in Harlem
(Sky Cat, 2019, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-05-13

A Lousy Day in Harlem Cover art

After six albums on Cuneiform, all nothing less than superb, the Ed Palermo Big Band is back in action on Sky Cat records with A Lousy Day in Harlem, this time taking it in a slightly different direction from his previous releases, which mostly focused on compositions by the late great Frank Zappa, and more recently Todd Rundgren, and The Great Un-American Songbook which focused on British pop music of the last 50 years, two full length discs of great songs arranged in his big band style. On most of his previous albums, with the notable exception of the second disc of 2014’s Oh No! Not Jazz! there were very few of Palermo’s original compositions scattered through these, but the new disc rectifies all that, featuring roughly half originals in a solid jazz style scrambled with some classic and lesser known jazz covers. It doesn’t take more than one spin to recognize that the original compositions presented here are every bit as good as the covers of Monk, Coltrane, Ellington, and others, in fact the thirteen piece set is surprisingly cohesive beginning to end. The opener, “Laurie Frink,” is a Palermo original, a strangely familiar piece that sets the album off on a good foot for everything that follows, shifting through a number of different styles and emotions as it proceeds over its eight minute duration. An original closes the album as well. “This Won’t Take Long” is a playful and expressive piece full of joy and adventure. In between there are many noteworthy pieces, both originals and covers, starting with the absolute standout “Sanfona,” written by Egberto Gismonti, a stunningly melodic piece that will live on in your head all day, driving forward though a number of powerful passages gently propelled by a potent rhythmic figure, and the big band truly brings it to life led by Phil Chester’s soprano sax. “The One with the Balloon,” another Palermo original, makes for a pleasurable romp through numerous variations on several recurring themes, all culminating with a tap-dance solo by guest Nicki Denner. Bristling with energy on the go is Duke Ellington’s fast paced “Brasilliance,” featuring outstanding solos for piano, clarinet, and trumpet. Coletrane’s “Giant Steps” launches with the dueling tenor saxes of Ben Kono and Bill Straub doing the theme from Deliverance, followed by a full-band interpretation that would make Coltrane proud, with a little Zappa twist at the very end. “The Cowboy Song,” another Palermo original, struts its stuff with a powerful swagger and Chester’s gentle soprano sax leading the way. In summary, A Lousy Day in Harlem is a magnificent day for jazz, and a powerful statement by this sixteen piece unit and Palermo as a composer.


Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): The Ed Palermo Big Band

More info
http://palermobigband.bandcamp.com/releases

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Frank Zappa - Civilization Phaze III – This long awaited post-mortem artifact of Zappa's work is indeed a fine addition to his catalog. The music is almost entirely realized on a Synclavier, yet this is not the sterile robot-music we...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues