Oliver Lake (b. 1942) is an American jazz musician, composer and poet whose storied career you can read about here. Regardless, on May 21, 2013 he celebrated the release of his second big band album entitled Wheels. This eight track opus is a tour de force of style, compositional prowess, command performances and outside the box thinking and hearing.
The responsible parties joining Oliver Lake in this endeavor are: Jason Marshall (baritone sax), Darius Jones (alto sax), Bruce Williams (alto sax), Mike Lee (tenor sax), James Stewart (tenor sax), Waldron Ricks (trumpet), Freddie Hendrix (trumpet), Nabate Isles (trumpet), E.J. Allen (trumpet), Aaron Johson (trombone), Stafford Hunter (trombone), Alfred Patterson (trombone), Terry Greene (trombone), Yoichi Uzeki (piano), Marc Cary (piano solo track 6), Robert Sabin (bass) and Chris Beck (drums).
This album caught my attention because of Oliver Lake's deft arrangement of the Outkast song The Whole World. It seemed like such a natural choice for big band interpretation that it's amazing it took this long to happen. However, what I enjoy most about Lake's arrangement isn't just that it's a head melody and then virtuosic blowing across the changes, but rather that the artists go to great lengths to involve the original vocal cadences from the rapped verses. It's an impressive showing of due diligence and one you need to listen to.
The album is selling digitally for only ten bucks and is well worth the cost. You can download Wheels here as well as stay in touch with Oliver Lake via Facebook, Twitter, and his Official Web Page.