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"Any straight ahead jazzbo will know this is the stuff. Well done."
"A brave album"
"Great music played by a tight, swinging band."
"I recommend it."
"Nothing here needs repealing and replacing!"
"One of the most exciting and inventive big bands in the greater Los Angeles area."
"The trombone solo is absolutely gorgeous."
I started writing “Make Big Band Great Again” late in 2016. I did not set out to write such a politically motivated record, but the themes were permeating my mind at that time. I was experiencing an odd combination of hopelessness and bewilderment. It made no sense to me that Donald Trump aimed to dismantle the progress of the Obama era while simultaneously presenting himself as a man of the people. As a professional artist, I was already feeling like a bit of an economic outcast, where my vocation is given little monetary value while demanding an incredibly high level of mastery. I was dependent on the Affordable Care Act. Trump repeatedly threatened to dissolve the NEA, while repeated attempting to discredit our only sources of reliable journalism with his mantra of “Fake News.”
My original plan was to write an album to pay tribute to my hometown, Los Angeles. The first song I wrote was “Pink Sunset (Over Gray Skies),” with reverence to our beautiful evenings that are ironically decorated by pollution. After writing a draft of the melody (that was later revised heavily by Bob McChesney), I experienced a bit of writer’s block. I put it aside and began another piece. This piece became “Fake News.” It was much darker, heavier, and more energetic than typical large ensemble jazz music. The composition combines elements of many of my favorite non-jazz musical artists: Chase, Tower of Power, Rage Against the Machine. I wasn’t writing this piece for any particular listener, rather writing music that would speak to me and my feelings about the political climate that was at the front of my mind.
“Repeal and Replace” became a musical expression of the futility I saw in Trump’s loosely proposed healthcare plan. He described the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare expansion and mandatory enrollment as a corrupt mess. But without a publicly funded option, there is no other solution. The piece begins with a display of this so-called healthcare mess. Then it gets repealed. The lone trumpet represents a helpless citizen that is suddenly unable to afford healthcare. The groovy part of the song represents Trump’s new plan as he would imagine it. But at the end, it is revealed that it would be exactly as messy as the plan he replaced.
“The Great Wall” is unabashedly joyous, intended to evoke the ill-informed idea that erecting a massive wall between the United Stated and Mexico would somehow create an migrant-free utopia. As a citizen of a sanctuary city, many of my friends and neighbors are immigrants. Many musicians I work with on a regular basis are working tirelessly on attaining citizenship. Illegal immigration would be far less of a problem if there was an easier path toward legal immigration.
Elliot Deutsch has led a big band in Los Angeles since 2006 and has released two prior albums. His work has been performed by Arturo Sandoval Big Band, Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and the Kennedy Center Jazz Orchestra. Deutsch has recently arranged music for Take 6, Martina McBride, Jane Monheit, Lalo Schiffrin, and the United States Air Force. He has served on the board of directors for the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers (ASMAC) and on the faculty at Long Beach City College and Cal Poly Pomona.
Elliot Deutsch Big Band
Alto Saxophone: Dan Kaneyuki (solo on The Great Wall), Will Vargas
Tenor Saxophone: Joe Santa Maria, Colin Kupka
Baritone Saxophone: Tim McKay
Trumpet: Mitch Cooper, Brandyn Phillips, Chris Gray, Mike Rocha (solo on Fake News)
Trombone: Bob McChesney (featured on Pink Sunset), Erik Hughes, Sean Shackelford
Bass Trombone: Steve Hughes
Guitar: Will Brahm
Piano: Scott Healy
Bass: Brian Ward
Drums: Greg Sadler
All songs arranged and orchestrated by Elliot Deutsch
2,3,4 Composed by Elliot Deutsch
5 Composed by Bob McChesney and Elliot Deutsch
Produced by Jason Lee
Recorded by Steve Genewick at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA
Assisted by Nick Rives
Mixed by Jason Lee
Mastered by Jett Galindo at The Bakery
Special thanks to Paula Salvatore at Capitol Studios
Cover photo by Noel Truick