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Lou Caputo, Urban Still Life (JazzCat47)
Urban Still Life emulates the cacophony of city life, big band style. Fronted by multi-reedist Lou Caputo, this album packs a couple of hefty punches in the full sound department. Rich in brass background, Caputo's solos deftly hold their own, so much so that, at times, he seems to be shackled by the unwavering accompaniment. This is the main criticism that, unfortunately, underlies almost every track. The 12 tracks are drawn from the classic jazz tradition with new arrangements from seven of the artists participating in these sessions. Some of the best include Jack Jeffers's treatment of Thelonius Monk's classic hit, "In Walked Bud", and Debra Weisz's arrangement of a Charles Mingus medley, "Song with Orange/Nostalgia in Times Square". Caputo tries his hand at arranging Frank Foster's "Raunchy Rita", a hard bop '60s number that fares well enough despite some awkward moments where soloist and accompaniment seem out of sync. "Chi Chi" hits closest to home, that home being New York City, an offering of Charlie Parker with a healthy dash of alto saxophone. Caputo shows flair and potential on his debut album as band leader. It doesn't quite all come together here, but with some fine-tuning, this could be the start of something really good.