Big Brooklyn Everyone, Everywhere
I first heard Big Brooklyn four years ago when they released the album ‘Purpose’ ( CD Baby 2018). It has been a wait for the next release. Their big sound is as classy as their presentation and their new release ‘Everyone, Everywhere’ is out on 18th March. Once again, they delight and surprise – with added maturity and intuition.
Big Brooklyn is a five-piece band based in Fort Collins, Colorado. They bridge jazz, rock, klezmer, and groove. They may comprise just five members, but they sound larger. They present music that touches on the elation of klezmer, is crafted over a fabric of jazz and has a groove that pulls it together. Band members are Melody Dornfield – clarinet and bass clarinet, Luke Soasay – tenor and soprano saxophones, Aaron Summerfield- guitar, Jo Askey – bass and Willie Dornfield – drums. Big Brooklyn has been awarded a five-star rating by the UK Song Writing Contest for their compositions and was a finalist in the jazz category of the John Lennon Song Writing Contest.
I asked Melody Dornfield about the recording, what Big Brooklyn has been doing since ‘Purpose’ and how the pandemic affected them. She told me, “We love playing, writing music, and sharing its fun, joy, sadness, laughter, excitement, and stories with others. While there was disappointment during the onset of Covid, as our chance to share music live was completely cancelled, we took it as an opportunity to focus on rehearsing, spending time together as a group, and songwriting. We set the goal of a new album to capture what had been happening in live performances just before the shutdowns and a way to record brand new compositions that came out of the pandemic. Working on the album was also a way to share music with people. We are excited to be in the current season, emerging from the pandemic. We are having performance opportunities again and cannot wait to release ‘Everyone Everywhere’!”
‘Brought Near’ starts with a funky groove under which the bass clarinet, joined by the sax, sings out the melody. The number rises and lifts to become a joyful, expressive adventure with the bass clarinet given centre stage and the task of setting the pace. The bass works out a pivotal bridge underpinning the transition to a section led by sax and a play on the melodic theme, which transcends into a change of rhythm, where the bass clarinet retakes the melody. The entire band joins in heralding the final phrases, which are a delight.
‘Rewind Yourself’ is a gorgeous, gentle, rhythmic number with soaring Bb clarinet and soprano sax, a searing tenor saxophone solo, and a feeling of the ensemble finding just the right harmony lines.
‘Every Eye’ is a vehicle for the expressive soprano sax work of Soasey, and this might be an understatement. The soprano sizzles, rising, calling, screeching, and almost vocalising across the top of a tight, groove-making rhythm section. The central section is a beautiful bass clarinet melodic solo line over polyrhythmic drums, which transits into a klezmer rhythm, a well-worked guitar solo, and finally a return to the melody and a huge finish.
‘ Send It To Me’ sets off on a dancy, playful jaunt with harmonised clarinet and saxes before the sax takes a solo, veering towards a traditional jazz vibe, which the guitar takes over. The bass walks across the backing layers like an ever-present steadying hand before it, and the drums get their spotlight moment. The return sees the sax and clarinet in harmony once more—a joyful piece with the tune sent to and fro across the ensemble.
‘Hollow’ ‘s tone is set by the deep, throated sonority of the bass clarinet, with its Bb cousin then taking on the gentle, restrained melody underpinned by the ensemble. The clarinet flies on this number and perfectly offsets the steady, ambling gait. Summerfield’s guitar rises to solo and lifts the number in circling loops to take the spirit higher. Then suddenly, all is still, and just the clarinet sings out the melody with the bass adding its deep presence at the finish – like it never left.
‘Choro Futoro I’ ( Summerfield) is a Latin-laced number with a swing and sassiness, the tricky rhythm of the drums offset by the melody of the clarinet and sax. The bass solo is glorious, and this number is a gentle, restful journey, with every member of the ensemble donating a different take on the simple, seductive melody.
‘Belong’ is a feisty affair with some clever crossing between parts, demonstrating the musicians’ connection with each other. Some impressive solo sections counter the big band sound, and the rhythmic element is never lost for a second. With a depth of the bass clarinet backing most sections, this track feels grounded, yet when the bass clarinet emerges to solo, it lifts, circles, and rises. Beautiful.
‘ A Little Faded’ is gentle, reflective, and features a beautiful solo from the Bb clarinet, which is echoed by the tenor sax, but with some different emphasis and key drops, making it engaging. The clarinet is gentle, soothing, and poignant at times, as it sings its song again; this time, the melody is taken and re-worked by the guitar before the sax now claims it until finally, the clarinet reclaims it to close the number gently.
‘Crazy Owl’ is the groove track of the album, with the bass forging a steadfast bass line, on top of which the other musicians work their lines, creating an upbeat, joyful way to complete this album.
Big Brooklyn was good four years ago when I first heard them. Now they are excellent and so tight and together, their music is a joy to listen to. Plus, it has the catchiness of klezmer, the over-arching jazz references, and rhythms to pull you in and keep you there.
Big Brooklyn is well named – their sound is big, deep, and impressive. It has been a wait, but this release is worth it.
Composers – Melody Dornfield – ‘Brought Near’, ‘Every Eye’, ‘Hollow’, ‘Belong’,
Will Dornfield – ‘Rewind Yourself,’ ‘Send It To Me,’ ‘A Little Faded,’ ‘Crazy Owl ‘
Aaron Summerfield ‘Choro Futuro I’