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The soloists in the band distinguish themselves upfront and Kaplan's charts leave powerful subliminal suggestions.
Gene Kalbacher/Hot House


“How’s That?”, the debut CD recording of the Mike Kaplan Nonet, bridges the gap between modern big-band and small-group jazz and will delight fans of both. Long a favorite of audiences in the New York City metro area, the band spotlights the highly inventive and exciting compositions and arrangements of Kaplan, performed with fire, precision, spunk and sensitivity by an ensemble of top NYC area improvisers. The Nonet features 6 horns out front and a flexible, intuitive rhythm section. The band members (most of whom have played with the Nonet for over ten years) collectively have performed and recorded with Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Toshiko Akiyoshi, former Jazz Messenger James Williams, Dave Liebman, Al Foster and many others. Featured soloists include trumpeter Bill Mobley, trombonists Pete McGuinness and Ben Williams, pianist Matt King and baritone saxophonist Ed Xiques.

Track Listing:
How's That?
mp.3 file, 2.4MB, 1:45

For CM
mp.3 file, 1.4MB, 2:04

The Crawl
mp.3 file, 1.8MB, 1:19

In Reality
mp.3 file, 2.6MB, 1:54

Melody for My Mom
mp.3 file, 2.7MB, 1:58

Firm Roots

mp.3 file, 2.4MB, 1:42

Sudden Stranger
Orange Circle Funk

Kaplan, whose tenor saxophone playing presents a modern spin on the big-toned Ben Webster tradition, covers a broad stylistic range as a writer. The Nonet expertly switches gears from the funky New Orleans second-line groove of the title track to the elegaic ballad “Sudden Stranger,” occasionally reminiscent of Wayne Shorter. The band’s versatility and togetherness is further showcased in the volcanic mood swings of the shifting-tempoed “For CM”, the warm Ellingtonian pastels of “Melody for My Mom” and the closing piece “Orange Circle Funk,” which simultaneously evokes the gutbucket and the future. The CD also features original Kaplan takes on classic compositions by two of Jazz’s most esteemed writers: Cedar Walton’s uptempo burner “Firm Roots” and Monk’s “Bye Ya”, re-imagined with a tapdance feel. Altoist Bob Hanlon, an outstanding soloist throughout, also displays impressive writing “chops” with his forward-looking composition and arrangement, “In Reality.”
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