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The Mike Kaplan Nonet offers engaging material presented in a precise yet free-spirited manner with solos that draw the listener in, and an underpinning, vibrant sense of swing.  The vital nine-piece ensemble, comprising Garden and Empire State stalwarts performs a zesty mix of originals and covers, delivered with vigor and feeling.
Zan Stewart/Newark Star Ledger 

Little big bands have returned and are suddenly back in the limelight because of the devotion to the format by a handful of bandleaders such as Jim Cifelli, Bill Kirchner, Mike Kaplan, Rob McConnell and Russ Gershon.
James Hale/Downbeat Magazine

Saxophonist Mike Kaplan and his New York City-based nonet play contemporary jazz; that is to say, jazz that is emphatically modern but neither purposely bland nor maddeningly incomprehensible.
Kaplan’s debut album contains a number of tasty musical surprises, and it's one of only a handful to leave me wishing the leader had soloed more often.
Pianist Matt King is impressive on “In Reality,” “Melody for My Mom” and “Firm Roots,” as are Ben Williams (“How’s That?,” “Orange Circle Funk”) and Pete McGuinness (“The Crawl,” “Bye-Ya”) on trombone, trumpeters Bill Mobley (“In Reality,” “Firm Roots”) and Rob Henke (“Orange Circle Funk”) and drummer Pete MacDonald (“How’s That?,” “Bye-Ya”) -- but no more so than Kaplan whose easygoing deposition on “Melody for My Mom” is among the album’s high points.
Kaplan’s compositions are always interesting. There’s funk aplenty on “How’s That?” and “Orange Circle,” invigorating changes in mood and tempo on “For CM” (dedicated to Charles Mingus) and lovely silhouettes to study on “Melody for My Mom” and “Sudden Stranger.”
“How’s That?” is an entry in an already overcrowded arena that’s definitely worth the effort to find.
Jack Bowers/AllAboutJazz.com

This big-sounding nonet would make a great initial purchase for 2004. A fine outing by a new name.
out of 10-Len Dobbin/Montreal Mirror

Jazz, like any language, is always changing and growing whilst not forgetting its roots, and "How's That?" definitely fits into that category. In these days of post modernism and experimental jazz, it is great to receive an album that is immediately listenable. The fusion of big band and small group sound makes for exciting listening that is quite refreshing. This is further enhanced by the meticulous playing of the soloists involved and "How's That?" is an album that will remain on rotation at our radio station.
Tony Bates/3WBC FM 94.1 (Box Hill, Victoria, Austalia)

The nonet is a unique creature living somewhere between the combo's freedom of expression and the controlled written framework that is the big band. In the right hands the ensemble achieves a litheness and dynamism which doesn't exist wholly in either camp. Mike Kaplan's group has captured that elusive balance and put some great sounds down on disk.   "How's That?" will reward any listener who dons a headset or cranks a speaker.
Stan Bann/JazzNow.com

Kaplan’s success curve stays very strong. Big bands can be sketchy undertakings nowadays, but this disc illustrates an example of resources well spent. Kaplan’s band stays a course that yields a strong sampling of music.
Derek Taylor/Cadence Magazine

This is a nonet that sounds like a 17-piece big band, due obviously to the arranging prowess of reedman-arranger, Mike Kaplan. The band is both crisp & tight. Kudos too to Mike's original writing style. The signature tune, ''How's That'' combines all the better elements of jazz, blues, and funk, and holds up nicely. Mike instinctively knows where he's going with his band and his music.
George W Carroll/eJazzNews.com

This is music with enough intuitiveness that it can change direction and pace at a moments notice, and it does so in grand fashion. The solo flights in the title track (and many of the other compositions) are the summit of jazz soloing within the band concept.. All the rest of the musical parts of the puzzle fall together effortlessly; this band does it with conviction.
The freedom found in this music is awe-inspiring. Kaplan has plenty of help from his fine band and they deserve a tip of the hat for such a superior effort. This man has the staying power and talent to become a recognized name in jazz very soon. The only thing he needs now is more people to discover his music.
Keith Hannaleck/AllAboutJazz.com

Jazz seems to be mostly known for its big bands and its small combos, but saxophonist/composer Mike Kaplan is trying to change all that. "How's That?", presents a balancing point between the power of a big band and the finesse of a smaller group. Outside of pianist Matt King's solos, the rhythm section gracefully swings without calling attention to itself, turning on a dime the way a small combo would, while the six-horn strong front line brandishes the volume and sheer force of the bigger bands. That's not to say each half can't do the other's job; on the cover of Cedar Walton's "Firm Roots," the horns move easily from sedate melody to forceful blasts, while drummer Pete MacDonald rides his cymbals like a jockey on a fast horse and King moves the keyboard to the forefront. On cuts like "Sudden Stranger," "For CM" and "Orange Circle Funk," Kaplan and cohorts prove themselves as adept at penning memorable jazz tunes as the masters. The Kaplan Nonet sticks strictly to traditional jazz here, nothing that could be categorized as avant garde or fusion, and does it damned well. "How's That?" When it comes to horn-driven jazz, very nice.
Michael Toland/High Bias.com

Kaplan's arrangements are modern and delicate, but they retain a traditional warmth, directness and sense of fun. The sonic completeness and the joy this album offers are evidence that the long time that separates the group's forming from its recording debut was worth the wait.
Vangelis Aragiannis/Ipirotikos Agon   (Ioanninos, Greece)

No questions to be asked about what the Mike Kaplan Nonet offers on their first CD, you can hear it - Big Band sound, sometimes swinging, sometimes passionate, completely in the tradition of successful orchestras. In many passages you hear Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus saluting. "How's That?" offers a great mix of originals by Mike Kaplan and arrangements. The Nonet has with six horns an incredibly strong well ... horn section at the front, which does them proud. The "little" orchestra presents a great piece of Big Band music.
Peggy Thiele/JazzDimensions.com   (Berlin, Germany)

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