Indiana-based trumpeter Mark Buselli’s latest album is an elegant, subdued collection of 11 big-band arrangements featuring vocals and strings. An Old Soul, as the title suggests, serves as a contemporary tribute to the classic big bands of Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, and Count Basie, among others. Buselli, director of jazz studies at Ball State University, proves an able arranger with strong attention to detail and an ear for beautiful sounds. However, the lush and precise arrangements on An Old Soul have few off-color or “out” sections, which proves to be both a strength and a weakness. The upside is that Buselli emphasizes all of the harmonic and melodic nuances of the original compositions, three of which are his own. The downside is little room is allowed for experimentation and spontaneity, and the individual personalities of the album’s talented musicians are never truly revealed.
Buselli’s arrangement of the classic Charles Mingus composition, “Fables of Faubus”, is a good example. With a strong backbeat and lockstep horns, Buselli’s version of this classic reflects a more contemporary, precise sound, while revealing all of the gorgeous idiosyncrasies of the original composition. Unfortunately, Buselli’s version misses the loose, bohemian aesthetic that made the original so intoxicating. Still, for those jazz fans in need of great interpretations of the classic big-band sound, check out An Old Soul.
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