Led by trombonist and composer Sean Nelson, the New London Big Band is a 17-piece jazz orchestra made up of the finest musicians in New England.
Formed in 2016, the band plays a mix of classic jazz standards, upbeat dance tunes, and original music by band members, and regularly features instrumental and vocal soloists. “Social Hour!” is the band’s theme song and an homage to the band’s regular performance spot, The Social Bar + Kitchen in New London, Connecticut.
Here, this epic jazz orchestra of 17 musicians shines!…Old and New music light up this program…Roaring ’20s vibes to new music rides – all with the best musicians…! The band has a spirit of being laid back and full of positive energy…the members of the band are incredible virtuosos, but no big egos here!…there is a real sense of joy coming from the bandstand!!
“…Nelson, who is foremost a member of the United States Coast Guard Band, has assembled a youthful, sharp, hip 17-piece ensemble as dedicated as he is to the belief that big band sounds can provide a fine musical experience…”
Erik Elligers – alto sax, flute; Tyler Wilkins – alto sax, flute, clarinet, bassoon; Cedric Mayfield – tenor sax, flute, clarinet, tárogató; Josh Thomas – tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Jeff Emerich – baritone sax, contralto clarinet
Bryce Call – trumpet, flugelhorn; Seth Bailey – trumpet, flugelhorn; Haneef Nelson – trumpet, flugelhorn; Tom Brown – trumpet, flugelhorn
Sean Nelson – trombone, electric trombone, and alto trombone; Leroy Loomer – trombone; Vince Yanovich – trombone; Brian Sturm – bass trombone
Jen Allen – piano, Hammond B3 organ; Wurlitzer; Doug Maher – guitar; Lou Bocciarelli – upright and electric bass; Nathan Lassell – drums, percussion
Megan Weikleenget – vocals (track 10); Ryan Foley – flute (tracks 3, 5, 12); Laura Pirruccello – flute (tracks 3, 5, 12); Megan Nelson – alto flute (track 10); Robert Durie – clarinet and contrabass clarinet (tracks 3, 5, 8, 12); Chris Smith – steel pans, percussion (tracks 3, 12); Rob McEwan – tabla (track 10); Megan Sesma – harp (tracks 3, 8, 10, 12)
Sean Nelson leads a full bodied and polished brassy big band, even adding his own collection of trombone, electric trombone and alto trombone into the mix of the 17+ members. A number of the tunes reveal Nelson’s marrow of a Count Basie influence, as there’s a hip KC swing to “Social Hour” and a “Lil Darlin’” delicacy to the velvety intro of the blue “Brisket and Beans” while pianist Jen Allen is Basie-economical along with Tom Brown’s easy horn during “Countin’ Freckles”. Nelson livens things up with his electric ‘bone on the quirky “Freaks in Mayberry” with a space cadet of a solo with the dramatic Cedric Mayfield on tenor”. With extra textures by the 10 member Trombone Ensemble, Mayfield pulls out the exotic tarogato to team up with Doug Maher’s cool guitar strings ont eh graceful pulsations of “Let There Be Light”. A “Birdland”-ish “Every Possible History of the Universe has the leader riding over the big beat, with the sweet “Blues From The News” spotlights Haneef Nelson’s smooth trumpet. Easy on the ears, inspiring for the toe tapping feet.
-George Harris for Jazz Weekly
What is this big band? A collection of latch key kids that didn’t have any after school snacks to come home to other than Basie records? A smartly swinging young crew that probably thinks “Breakfast Club” is an old people’s movie, their beat can’t be beat and they know and show that swing is the thing—-on a set of mostly originals! Righteously right on.
Trombonist and composer, Sean Nelson, had a dream that manifested with this incredibly entertaining package of big band music.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to have my own big band; an epic jazz orchestra of seventeen plus musicians. A band that would play music old and new, tunes ranging from the roaring 20s to brand new compositions written by band members. Most of all, a band made up of the absolute best musicians,” Sean Nelson mused in his liner notes.
The New London Big Band opens with Sean’s original composition, “Social Hour!” and it swings pretty hard. It’s followed by a low-down, dirty blues called “Brisket and Beans” that features the fluid and blues-drenched guitar of Doug Maher. Nelson has also composed this song. I am intrigued by the horn arrangements and the way he has them whine and moan during this blues production. “El Chupacabra” is another original composition by Sean Nelson and it invites strong percussive accents and smooth horn lines. “Countin’ Freckles” is a tune that reminds me of the Count Basie days. It invites the swing dancers to the ballroom floor. Track #5 was composed by their pianist, Jen Allen. Called “The Clearing” is sounds like a movie soundtrack with its many moods and tempo changes from smooth 4/4 to double time swing with an under-current of 6/8 sliding in and out of the theme.
The Sean Nelson New London Big Band was formed in 2016 and is comprised of some of the finest musicians New England has to offer. The title tune is the band’s theme song and an homage to their regular appearance at a club called, “The Social Bar + Kitchen” in New London, Connecticut. Sean Nelson pushes musical boundaries when he uses his electric trombone to interpret his composition, “Freaks in Mayberry.” Arranged with the funk drums of Nathan Lassell pushing the tune forward forcefully, it also features a pensive and soulful solo on tenor sax by Cedric Mayfield. Their elated and energetic arrangement on “When You Wish Upon a Star” will lighten your mood and is bound to make you smile. These ‘cats’ are everything you want in a big band and more. Their carefully constructed repertoire will keep you entertained from beginning to end, along with their tightly packaged arrangements, stellar solos and overall great playing by this seventeen-piece orchestra. Sit back and enjoy!