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Dave Stahl Band Recordings

Live at the Ritz

Just as on Dave's previous "live" recording, you get to hear Dave's intros of the tunes, the applause and whistles and clinking of glasses.  All the ambience of a "live" gig as Dave's PA band makes its recording debut. Included are two of Maynard's charts and 4 originals along with arrangements of 5 other pieces. The band carries you through the spectrum of big band jazz from the ballads to contemporary grooves and straight ahead jazz.



First Bite
An original from the pen of chief arranger, Todd Fronauer, set to a Latin groove, featuring solos by Todd on valve bone, Steve Fieldhouse on tenor sax, Dave on trumpet and the lead alto of Dave Shultz. The ensemble cumulates with an exciting end to this opening piece.

As Long As He Needs Me
From the Maynard recording "The Ballad Style of Maynard Ferguson", this transcription and adaption by Todd Fronauer brings Keith Mansfield's beautiful treatment of this tune to the big band setting . Of course Dave pays tribute and homage to Maynard through his recording of this and other Maynard charts.

The Concubine
Another original by Todd Fronauer. He has some crazy titles that he pens but his charts certainly aren't wacky. This is set to a contemporary groove and features Fieldhouse, Shultz on soprano sax and Dave on flugel along with some high trumpet octaves provided by Dave's lead trumpeter, Craig Kenney.

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
This Elton John tune is another tribute to Maynard.  Played many times as part of the Maynard hit medley.  It was never actually recorded by Ferguson.  This transcription of Jay Chattaway's chart also features the fiery trombone of Dale DeVoe - Dave's special guest for the date and member of Dave's NY band. Dale recorded on the other "live " album and has been a long time friend of Dave's.

Squib Cakes
Tower of Power's chart as arranged by Todd Fronauer with features for the trumpet section- get ready for some high notes - tenor sax of Howard Boots, the cooking bari sax of Vic Wertz, piano of Mike Moran and a hot duel between the rhythm section cohorts of Rob Cochran on electric bass and the drums of Lew Leabman.

The Love Of A Rose
An arrangement by Todd Fronauer of this latin piece that features Steve Fieldhouse and Todd along with Dave and a drum solo send off by Leabman to an exciting ensemble passage capped by a high note ending.

Checking For Bees 
One of those quirky titles of Fronauer's but this piece kind of merits it. A fast modern jazz number with trading solos by Dave, Steve and Dale followed by Moran on piano and then the drums of Lew sets up a difficult romp out by the band. Meter shifts from 7/4 to 4/4 and a sizzling ending.  By far the toughest piece of the night for the band.

Stars Fell On Alabama
Beautiful ballad as arranged by Bob Mulligan for the band. Dave featured on this arrangement.

The Clare Fischer tune that has always been a favorite of Dave's. Asked to do an arrangement of this tune, Todd Fronauer came through with a great effort. Solos by Dale and Dave wrapped by an interesting and creative ensemble accompaniment.

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
The Joe Zawinul tune done by many big bands, most notably Buddy Rich.
Todd gives his own treatment here in a slower funky style, with solos by Moran, Wertz, Dan Hoover on tenor sax, Rob Cochran and Dave leading into the out statement with an ending that features some super human notes by Craig Kenney on lead trumpet. Those are smokin' "A's"!

What On Earth
The finale to the evening and a great way to go home. A captivating, infectious original piece by Todd Fronauer. Bob Stoyko on trumpet, Vic Wertz on bari, Todd Fronauer on valve bone, and Dave on trumpet are all interspersed with incredible bass solo sendoffs by Rob Cochran which all leads to an extended Buddy Richesque solo by Lew Leabman. Trumpet octaves abound during the piece and all is capped with a hot ending to this piece and the evening.


Leader / Trumpet / Flugelhorn: Dave Stahl
Trumpet / Flugelhorn: Craig Kenney, Dave Buffington, Bob Stoyko, Dave Brumbaugh
Trombone: Dale DeVoe, Scott Rhoads
Valve Trombone: Todd Fronauer
Bass Trombone: John McKelvey
Saxes: Dave Shultz - alto / soprano, Steve Fieldhouse - tenor / flute, Howard Boots - tenor / flute,
Dan Hoover - tenor / flute, Vic Wertz - bari / flute
Drums: Lew Leabman
Piano: Mike Moran
Elecric / String Bass: Rob Cochran


Jack Bowers, All About Jazz

Some musicians, it seems, can’t avoid notoriety and praise, while others, equally talented, somehow manage to fly under the radar. Trumpeter Dave Stahl is a notable member of the second group, earning no mention in the All Music Guide to Jazz in spite of having recorded at least three splendid albums dating back to 1987. He’s not profiled in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz either, but does warrant a brief paragraph in the New Grove Dictionary, in which it is disclosed that he played lead trumpet with the Woody Herman Herd (1973-75) and the Count Basie Orchestra (1975-80). While no one can accuse Stahl of not blowing his own horn—he does that about as well as anyone—few people seem to have been listening. Perhaps Stahl's newest album, Live at the Ritz, will help change that. Let’s hope so, as it is hip and impressive from end to end.

Stahl is a devoted admirer of fellow high-note maestro Maynard Ferguson, and his band is most reminiscent of MF”s broad-minded ensembles from the mid-’70s, the ones that introduced aspects of rock, funk and pop to reinforce the indispensable jazz component. This is most evident on such tunes as Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” Chester Thompson's skitterish “Squib Cakes,” and to a lesser extent on Joe Zawinul’s oft-ridden warhorse, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” All three were smartly arranged by chief writer Todd Fronauer, as was everything else on the album save “Stars Fell on Alabama,” the second of Stahl’s trumpet features (the other is Lionel Bart’s “As Long as He Needs Me“).

Fronauer, who also wields a mean valve trombone, wrote four of the concert’s stellar numbers, “First Bite,” “The Concubine,” “Checking for Bees” and “What on Earth,” adapted “Needs Me” and “Sun” from charts by Keith Mansfield and Jay Chattaway, and arranged João Pernambuco’s lyrical “Love of a Rose” and Clare Fischer’s sensuous “Pensativa.”

One needs a resourceful drummer to supervise a program such as this, and Stahl has one in Lew Leabman, as well as an astute reed section supervisor in alto saxophonist Dave Shultz. Stahl doesn’t play lead trumpet, leaving that in the capable hands of Craig Kenney, but, like Maynard, is never far removed from center stage, nailing an array of improbable high notes and sculpting remarkable solos on every number. Fronauer, Leabman and Shultz add thought-provoking statements, as do tenors Steve Fieldhouse, Dan Hoover, and Howard Boots; trombonist Dale DeVoe, trumpeter Bob Stoyko, baritone Vic Wertz, pianist Mike Moran and bassist Rob Cochran.

Stahl does one more thing that other bandleaders should consider. He talks to the audience, naming soloists and saying a few words about the songs that are being played. Don’t know about you, but I appreciate that. Of course, there’s much more than that to appreciate, as Stahl and his band knock themselves out to present a colorful and exciting concert. Sound quality is first-rate, 71:46 playing time exemplary. Warmly recommended.


Dan Jacobs,

Dave Stahl is a trumpet player's trumpet player. He can do it all! From his beautiful sound and jazz phrasing in the lower to middle range to his ferocious chops and incredible accuracy and enormous sound in the extreme upper register, he never fails to deliver.

This album is a winner! From start to finish, it’s got you hooked. The quality of musicianship overall, the ensemble work and the soloing and arranging, is at the highest levels only equaled by the recording quality (I was very impressed). If you’re looking for an exciting big band recording, in a live setting, look no further. For a performance recorded in a club setting, this is one of the best I’ve reviewed. It’s obvious that the band had fun on the date and every tune is a pleasure to listen to.

Arrangements are provided largely by valve trombonist Todd Fronauer and he is up to the task, delivering fresh new treatments of standards like, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and Clare Fishers’ “Pensativa” and other great new challenging charts worthy of a band of this caliber. Worthy of note is drummer Lew Leabman, the consummate professional, who shines on this date with his section work and great solos. His presence definitely contributes to the overall impact of the band. Combined with bassist Rob Cochran and pianist Mike Moran, they provide the perfect rhythm section, arguably for any band, providing a solid bedrock for the outstanding talents of the rest of the band, topped off by the thrilling leader, Dave Stahl, who handles anything thrown at him with seemingly effortless competence! Highly recommended!

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