Flying Colors – Gary Urwin Orchestra and Friends

Flying Colors – Gary Urwin Orchestra and Friends

Label: Summit Records

Release date: Jan 2024

Catalog number: 818


This I Dig of You
comp: Hank Mobley
Day in the Life of a Fool (theme from "Black Orpheus")
comp: Luiz Bonfa
Spur of the Moment
comp: Gary Urwin
Polka Dots and Moonbeams
comp: Jimmy Van Heusen
Red Clay
comp: Freddie Hubbard
Short Stop
comp: Shorty Rogers
You Don't Know What Love Is
comp: Gene De Paul
Let's Fall in Love
comp: Harold Arlen
Tunnel at the End of the Light
comp: Carl Saunders
Theme from "Vertigo"
comp: Bernard Hermann
Almost Like Being in Love
comp: Frederick Loewe
My Buddy
comp: Walter Donaldson

Featured soloists: Carl Saunders, trumpet; Wayne Bergeron, trumpet; Pete Christlieb, tenor sax; Scott Whitfield, trombone; Rusty Higgins, saxes and flute; Christian Jacob, piano


LA’s finest are on hand for the ‘ride’!  An extremely enjoyable collaboration that ended in a ‘tight’, world-class large ensemble project with incredible charts & solos…In addition to playing great solos, the soloists’ effervescent personalities gave rise to many enjoyable moments during the recording process. This is a Special Recording and was one of the last sessions of the late, great Carl Saunders.

One of Urwin’s favorite Carl-isms was elegantly simple and gave real-world advice on how to be both successful and happy.  Urwin still calls it to mind frequently.  It goes something like this:

Step1: “Figure out what it is you’re best at…

Step 2: Do it!”



Gary Urwin, Leader and Arranger

Saxes: Rusty Higgins, Jeff Driskill, Pete Christlieb, Bob Sheppard, John Mitchell, (On selected tracks): Brandon Fields, Brian Scanlon and Greg Hawkins

Trombones: Alan Kaplan, Andy Martin, Scott Whitfield, Craig Gosnell, (On selected tracks): Charlie Loper

Trumpets: Wayne Bergeron, Carl Saunders, Kye Palmer, Jeff Bunnell, John Thomas, (On selected tracks): Aaron Janik

Rhythm: Christian Jacob, piano, Trey Henry, bass, Ray Brinker, drum set, Ralph Razze, Ken Gomez and Chris Rios (supplemental drums and percussion)

Additional Guest Artists: Cathy Biagini, cello; Bobby Burns Jr., piccolo trumpet; Robin Smith, auxiliary woodwinds; Phil Feather, English horn



…listen to the album several times. Gary and the band really are quite remarkable, which becomes more apparent each time you hear the tracks. The band’s sound is a throwback to the West Coast of the 1950s and the swinging studio band era, delivering a lyrical story with a one-two punch.

-Jazz Wax



Listen to Flying Colors (Summit – 818) by The Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra and you will hear an all-star band of Los Angels area musicians playing charts by one of the masters of big band jazz writing, Gary Urwin.  The band is one that would be the envy of any leader, Wayne Bergeron, Carl Saunders, Kye Palmer, Jeff Bunnell and John Thomas are in the trumpet section; the reeds comprise Rusty Higgins, Jeff Driskill, Pete Christlieb, Bob Sheppard and John Mitchell;  Alan Kaplan, Andy Martin, Scott Whitfield and Craig Gosnell man the trombone seats; and the sublime rhythm section has Christian Jacob on piano, Trey Henry on bass and Ray Brinker on drums.  Also along for the ride are several occasional contributors.  As you would expect from this crew and this leader, the music is swinging, executed to perfection and contains exceptional soli by Saunders, Bergeron, Christlieb, Whitfield, Higgins and Jacob .  There are jazz tunes, “This I Dig of You,” “Red Clay” and “Short Stop;” standards, “A Day in the Life of a Fool,” “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” “Almost Like Being in Love” and “My Buddy;” a film tune, “Theme from Vertigo;” plus one original each by Urwin, “Spur of the Moment” and Saunders, “Tunnel at the End of the Light.”  Incidentally, the title of the latter tune is a fine example of the whimsey that was a hallmark of the late trumpet master.  This is a program that varies in tempo, but never ceases to fully engage the listener.  Flying Colors is well named!

-Joseph Lang for Jersey Jazz



This orchestra includes some of LA’s finest musicians and is one of the last sessions recorded by the late, great Carl Saunders.  He is brightly featured on trumpet during their opening tune by Hank Mobley titled, “This I Dig of You.”  The arrangement swings hard, and the harmonics played by energetic horns is lush and beautiful.  Christian Jacob takes a piano solo that skips along the keys joyfully.  Pete Christlieb is spotlighted on his tenor saxophone during this strong bebop arrangement.  The drums play an important part during this song.  Unfortunately, the drummer is one of four listed and they didn’t tell me which one played on this tune, but he certainly kicked this song into high gear!

They calm the groove down when they play “Day in the Life of a Fool” as a beautifully orchestrated Latin ballad. On “Spur of the moment” (a tune by their leader, arranger Gary Urwin) they are back to the ‘swing era’ when Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman were the kings on the scene.  Wayne Bergeron’s trumpet solo is magnificent with a high-pitched whistle sound at the end.  You will enjoy other familiar tunes like “Polka Dots & Moonbeams” with Carl Saunders’ trumpet solo reminding me what an amazing player he was.  They add Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” to the mix, flying Straight-ahead, pushed by that catchy bass line we all love played by Trey Henry.  This album is stuffed with Southern California A-1 talent and every song radiates the crème de la crème of the community. Urwin has rejuvenated these familiar tunes, with a fresh coat of California jazz excellence.  Enjoy tunes like “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Let’s Fall I Love” or “Almost Like Being in Love” and “My Buddy” with the imaginative arranger bringing each song refreshed and pleasant to our ears.

-Dee Dee McNeil for Making A Scene!



…Gary Urwin leads a swinging big band through some clever charts and rich solos brought on by an A list of guests including the late Carl Saunders/tp, Wayne Bergeron/tp, Pete Christlieb/ts, Scott Whitfied/tb, Christian Jacob/p and Rusty Higgins/sax-fl. The “regular” band is selected from LA’s finest, such as Ray Brinker/dr, Trey Henry/b and Jacob a well as members of Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.

The horn sections are bright and warm, with Saunders and Christlieb bopping around “ This I Dig Of You” and Saunders in a dreamy mood surrounded by woodwinds on “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”. Brinker rides the whip on a crisp “Let’s Fall In Love” and Jacob sways with Henry on Saunders’ own “Tunnel At The End Of Sight” and the sections punch like Oscar De La  Hoya during an incredibly hip read of the dark and funky take of Freddie Hubbard’s “ Red Clay”. The charts have a classic Billy May feel much of the time, extroverted, fun and relentlessly vibrant, tight … on “Almost Like Being In Love”. The album closes with a reflecting Jacobs soloing on “My Buddy” allowing everyone to end with a deep and relaxed breath. Swing’s the thing.

-Jazz Weekly