Jazz2Love by Susan Frances
“Merriment galore… Brimming with bright, flashy horns, the recording embraces swing and ballroom jazz in a way that is both nostalgic and contemporary… The music is a genuine crowd pleaser.” “Embracing both adventurous excursions and traditional motifs, HJO’s recording updates the big band style to modern listeners’ liking with ardent and sophisticated performances.” www.jazz2love.blogspot.com
Album Review: The Brite Side from Horizons Jazz Orchestra
– November 27, 2020
Merriment galore, Horizons Jazz Orchestra’s latest release “The Brite Side” is a celebration of the works of Lee Harris, a revered baritone saxophonist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. The orchestra’s re-imagination of five originals by Harris and his arrangements of five jazz standards give audiences insight into the magnificence Harris brought out in musicians using the big band format. Brimming with bright, flashy horns, the recording embraces swing and ballroom jazz in a way that is both nostalgic and contemporary.
From the first track, the recording puts listeners in an upbeat mood with the flashing horns blazing through ‘Red Apple Sweet” to the shuffling drumbeats coruscating “After You’ve Gone, Finally.” The musicians show a love of life that is palpable. The creamy texture of the horns splayed across “The Runner” is dotted in electrifying squiggles, weaving extemporaneous flickers that emit thrilling sensations. The music is a genuine crowd pleaser. Moving on, the sensual patterns of the horns slinking along “The Sound” emit magnetic pulses that simmer down further to the smooth jazz smoulder of “Summertime,” trimmed in sprigs of swaying Latin accents.
The rapping drum strokes lining “Fourth Dimension” are punctuated by plumes of horns that glisten and soar. The big band flare may seem like retro ballroom jazz but sparked with a modern glint in their bursts. The lush quills of the horns embroider crests and valleys along the title track as keyboardist George Mazzeo fill in the space across the recesses with glittering flakes. The adventurous surges and wanes along the track give the composition dynamic shifts that make it substantive, organic and sophisticated.
Horizons Jazz Orchestra’s brand of big band music can be enjoyed by listeners outside of the jazz spectrum and by big band audiences alike. Embracing both adventurous excursions and traditional motifs, HJO’s recording updates the big band style to modern listener’s liking with ardent and sophisticated performances by the musicians.
JazzWeekly by George Harris
“Most fun is a revamping of “After You’ve Gone” with some humorous soulful punches by the horns on “After You’ve Gone, Finally” while the team gets funky on the title “The Brite Side”. Charts for the heart.”
Jazz Music Archives by John Sanders
“Bright, upbeat big band music with a 60s-70s pop leaning that may remind some of Quincy Jones, Maynard Ferguson, and Thad Jones… The ensemble work is flawless and the solos are short and to the point; this is big band music that can easily be enjoyed by non-jazz fans and big band aficionados alike.”
Jersey Jazz by Joe Lang
“A satisfying collection of contemporary big band music.”
The Brite Side (Self-produced) finds the HORIZONS JAZZ ORCHESTRA playing ten charts written by the late baritone saxophonist/composer/arranger Lee Harris. Originally planned as a project for a big band that Harris led with trumpeter Dennis Noday called SUPERBAND, Harris succumbed to ill health before the project could be realized. Jazz enthusiast Jeanette C. Piña recruited former SUPERBAND trombonist Michael Balogh and Noday to form the Horizons Jazz Orchestra with an eye toward seeing the project reach fruition. The results are indeed worth the effort. There are ten selections, including five Harris originals. The sole track that was not arranged by Harris is “Maria,” an arrangement written for Maynard Ferguson by Don Sebesky, and performed here by Noday. Trumpeter Carl Saunders, reedman Billy Ross and drummer Jonathan Joseph were brought in as guests for several tracks. Overall, the album is a satisfying collection of contemporary big band music.
September 21, 2020
All About Jazz by Jack Bowers
“A savory smorgasbord of big-band jazz securely anchored around the sharp compositions and arrangements of Lee Harris… the entire orchestra is top-class!”
September 12, 2020
Bebop Spoken Here (UK) by Lance Liddle
“A tremendous example of the big band music of today… Reminiscent, albeit updated, of the latter day bands of Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson and Stan Kenton. It’s adventurous but without losing the ability to swing the gate off your fence or to stop you dancing, although it’s far from being a dance band.”
September 07, 2020
In a Blue Mood by Ron Weinstock
“An outstanding big band recording… a wonderfully played, welcoming collection of originals, and innovative arrangements of some classic songs. Harris’ arrangements result in some very captivating performances.”
August 29, 2020
Keys & Chords (The Netherlands)
August 24, 2020
Jazziz Magazine New Music Monday
Horizons Jazz Orchestra, “Fourth Dimension”
Horizons Jazz Orchestra is a swinging contemporary big band from South Florida led by Michael Balagh. On July 27, they released their debut CD, The Brite Side, a tribute to Lee Harris featuring five of his originals and five of his arrangements of jazz standards. “Fourth Dimension,” one of the originals is capped here by a solo from trumpeter Carl Saunders. Balagh defines as his favorite track on the album, as well as “a soaring song that will transport you to higher levels of consciousness.”
August 16, 2020
Amazon by Grady Harp
“A fine tribute to a much-missed musician… the sound is lush, rich in melodic emphasis, singable and danceable!”
August 14, 2020
A tribute to Lee Harris by Grady Harp
South Florida big band HORIZONS JAZZ ORCHESTRA can now be heard outside the hall on this debut recording that is a tribute to baritone sax player, composer, arranger, bandleader Lee Harris – works by the composer and/or arrangements of standards. The sound is lush, rich in melodic emphasis, singable and danceable! The soloists include Jonathan Joseph – drums, Carl Saunders – Flugelhorn, Billy Ross – tenor sax, Dennis Noday – trumpet, Joe Miletti – tenor sax, Gary Malone – keys, Scott Klarman – soprano sax, and Luke Williams – guitar. The conductor of the orchestra is Michael Balogh. The tracks – Red Apple Sweet, Pure Imagination, After You’ve Gone Finally, The Runner, Fourth Dimension, The Brite Side, The Sound, Summertime, Maria, and A Train Bossa. This is a fine tribute to a much-missed musician.
August 10, 2020
The Jazz Owl by Travis Rogers, Jr.
“The album The Brite Side is indeed a tribute to the composer-arranger who contributed so much, was proclaimed too little, and gave us a new way to listen and new things to hear. The artists and producers deserve all the gratitude we can give for keeping the legacy of Lee Harris fresh.”
August 1, 2020
Musical Memoirs by Dee Dee McNeil
“Producer Michael Balogh has certainly created a loving tribute to his friend and fellow musician, Lee Harris. This production exposes the listeners to some well-written compositions and a host of outstanding musicians who play the Lee Harris arrangements with gusto and creative clarity… the album will proudly stand as his legacy.”
July 30, 2020
The Art Music Lounge by Lynn Rene Bayley
“This is a power band, all right! The band is propelled by an ungodly powerful rhythm section that sounds for all the world like the one Buddy Rich had with his big band.”
July 26, 2020
Contemporary Fusion Reviews by Dick Metcalf
“Superbly satisfying big band swing featuring tunes like “Fourth Dimension” – one of the BEST songs I’ve listened to (yet) in 2020… many moods are explored – and YOU get to ride along on this awesome aural adventure!”
July 25, 2020
JW Vibe by Jonathan Widran
“The collection is infused throughout with classic Kenton styled dynamics often adapted to contemporary, soul-jazz fusion grooves… You may never have heard of the late bari saxophonist, composer and arranger Lee Harris – but the 18-piece Horizons Jazz Orchestra and a few brilliant guest soloists out of South Florida will make sure you’ll be feeling his spirit and the emotional power of his music for a long time.”
April 16, 2020
All About Jazz by Ed Blanco
“A compelling package of big band music that is a pleasure to hear. What a delicious plate of big band music, as The Brite Side truly succeeds in serving quite a dish of powerful and memorable swinging big band music, deeply-rooted in the Kenton tradition, a plus for any ensemble.”