Nobody Does it Better: The CCM Jazz Orchestra as James Bond – Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Directed by Scott Belck

Nobody Does it Better: The CCM Jazz Orchestra as James Bond – Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Directed by Scott Belck

Label: Summit Records

Release date: Jan. 2017

Catalog number: 664


01 Dr. Yes
comp: Steven Bernstein
02 This Never Happened to the Other Guy
comp: John Barry
03 Battle at Piz Gloria
comp: John Barry
04 Bond With Bongos
comp: John Barry
05 Dawn Raid on Fort Knox
comp: John Barry
06 Nobody Does it Better
comp: Marvin Hamlisch, Carole Bayer Sager
07 You Only Live Twice
comp: John Barry
08 Thunderball
comp: John Barry

Bringing a college big band from Cincinnati together with a notorious downtown New York composer-arranger-trumpeter to perform expanded and decidedly tweaked renditions of John Barry’s sumptuous soundtrack music for several James Bond movies may seem like an audacious over-reach on the surface. But that was precisely what Scott Belck had in mind when the musical director for the College-Conservatory of Music Jazz Orchestra first contacted Sex Mob’s ringleader, trumpeter-composer-arranger Steven Bernstein about this unlikely collaboration. Bernstein, who has previously arranged large ensembles for Portugal’s Orchestra de Jazz Matosinhos (OJM), Arturo O’Farril’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and for Robert Altman’s 1996 movie Kansas City, explained his modus operandi for Nobody Does It Better. “I tend to write very physical, demanding arrangements. I try to get that kind of intensity that I like. And the thing is, these guys are young, and they know extreme music — trumpet parts that are really high and trombone parts that are really low…all these extreme things that are super physical that as you get older become harder to play. But young guys love to tackle that stuff.”  Things did indeed happen on this unlikely collaboration between jazz renegade Bernstein and Belck’s pro-sounding college big band. And the results are scintillating. Nobody Does It Better is throbbing with energy and brimming with the sound of surprise. (from the liner notes by Bill Milkowski)



The reason most jazz orchestras steer clear of the James Bond catalog is fear of ridicule. Bond music is deceptively difficult. To be convincing, the feel has to be sultry while the attack must be elephantine and brassy. Anything short of these qualities in the music’s scope and sound will come off as lightweight and silly. So last week, when I saw the album Nobody Does It Better: The CCM Jazz Orchestra as James Bond (Summit), I had two simultaneous reactions—skepticism and pity. Yet another orchestra landing in 007’s trap. [Photo above of Scott Belck, director of the CCM Jazz Orchestra]

Imagine my surprise when I put on the CD and found myself captivated by the music. The arrangements are inventive and take liberties, but they blissfully meet all of my Bond criteria. Mind you, I’m no Bond piker. I have upward of 60 Bond-related albums, including the soundtracks, contemporary interpretations, big-band and small-group jazz covers, Latin approaches and the instrumentals by the U.K.’s Roland Shaw. I like my Bond music big, sassy, swinging and menacing. Mission accomplished here…

-Jazz Wax