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

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Harmonia 76 - Tracks and Traces – 1976 was a transitional year where Brian Eno changed his context for working with electronics to an ambient perspective. This was due in part to his meeting with synthesizer duo Cluster (Moebius and...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues