Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra, “Speak Low,” from Without a Trace
In addition to being an in-demand trombonist and professor at the City College of New York, Scott Reeves is an abundantly skilled composer and arranger, with a reputation for merging edgy, non-traditional harmonies with timeless grooves and forms. Without a Trace is his namesake orchestra’s sophomore album for Seattle-based Origin Records, and it provides an excellent glimpse into Reeve’s compositional style. Featuring some of New York’s top-flight jazz artists — including saxophonist Steve Wilson and vocalist Carolyn Leonhart — the album pairs original compositions by Reeves with invigorating arrangements of songbook standards.
Our Song of the Day is the orchestra’s version of “Speak Low,” a Kurt Weill classic refashioned here as a medium-tempo Afro-Cuban tune. The arrangement enshrouds the familiar melody in exotic harmonies and rhythms, imbuing the proceedings with bristling energy. The charged musical atmosphere is a boon for soprano saxophonist Steve Wilson, the song’s featured soloist, who unleashes streams of hot-to-the-touch sax lines during his moment in the spotlight. Drummer Andy Watson keeps the whole thing pulled taught with explosive grooves that are both steadfast and reactive.