Recommended: Mitch Shiner and the BloomingTones Big Band – “Fly!”


Mitch Shiner - "Fly!"A solid big band session from Mitch Shiner and the BloomingTones Big Band.  The album’s strongest quality is that the ensemble insinuates a Big Sound more often than they show it.  It’s that show of restraint that creates tension while allowing room for strong melodies and delicate solos to hover at the forefront of the compositions.  The arrangements on Fly! provide an essential quality of differentiation between tracks, which gives the album an expansive range of expressions totaling to something much much more than here’s-another-big-band-album.

Exhibit A is the way vibes lead out on the classic “When You Wish Upon a Star.”  It gives the impression that this will be a track that tamps down on the enthusiasm and sticks to a moodier expression.  But the ensemble builds off the vibraphones’ rhythmic chatter rather than its melancholy tone, and it’s why the quick ascents and drops of intensity are secondary in enjoyability to the ensemble’s nifty playfulness with cadence.  This is the kind of sleight-of-hand that Shiner utilizes to great success on the recording.

Perhaps even better evidence of this is his Afro-Latin treatment of a Miley Cyrus tune.  “Wrecking Ball – Oggun” switches between a relaxed Latin groove and wild eruptions of the pop song’s splashy chorus.  The sudden changes makes sense as they happen, but their effect is no less surprising with each occurrence, and that’s why the song ends up being more than just charmingly kitschy.

Speaking of surprises and kitschy, Shiner’s down-the-center approach to Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” is far more successful than it has any right to expect.  A syrupy melody in the grasp of a big band can easily go saccharine on the turn of a dime, but the ensemble’s slow exhalation of the melody actually highlights some of its sweeter aspects.

“6:20 Shuffle” has a solid traditional sound, with a thick blues streak that swings wide, swings hard.  Taking a different angle on the title-track, “Fly” works the melody more like a pop song and uses it to shift from a conventional big band sound to something far more modern and far more intricate than a song for the masses… and all the while, maintaining a supreme tunefulness.

A very promising debut.  Also, a nice glimpse of the University of Indiana music scene.

Your album personnel:  Mitch Shiner (vibes, drums, congas, maracas, shekere, shakers, triangle), Amanda Gardier (alto & soprano saxes, flute, alto flute), Adam Carrillo (alto & soprano saxes, clarinet), Matt Roehrich (tenor sax, alto flute, clarinet), Alex Young (tenor sax, clarinet), Steven Banks (baritone sax, bass clarinet), Dan Coffman, John Sorsen, Stewart Rhodes (trombones), Brennan Johns (bass trombone), Wayne Wallace (trombone), Matt Johnson (tuba), Eric Dumouchelle, Torrey D’Angelo (French horns), Jordan Ghaim, Josiah Lamb, Joe Anderson, Lexie Signor, Pat Harbison (trumpets, flugelhorns), John Weisiger (piano), Matt MacDougall (guitar), Richard Baskin (vocal), Anna Butterss, Rob Walker, Jeremy Allen (electric, upright and baby basses), Joe Galvin (batá, guiro), Kristin Olson (vibes, batá, congas, timbales, shakers), Michael Spiro (vocal, batá), and Ben Lumsdaine, Josh Roberts (drums).

Released on Patois Records.

Jazz from the Bloomington, Indiana scene.

Available at:  eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon CD/MP3



Some of the opening paragraph was used originally in the weekly new jazz releases column I write for eMusic’s Wondering Sound, so here’s some language protecting their rights to the reprinted material as the one to hire me to write about new jazz arrivals to their site…

“New Arrivals Jazz Picks” reprints courtesy of, Inc.
© 2014, Inc.

As always, my sincere thanks to eMusic for the gig.