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Smooth Sailing With Maiden Voyage Group

May 14, 1986|LEONARD FEATHER

Ann Patterson's Maiden Voyage, the 17-piece orchestra heard Monday at the Hyatt on Sunset's Silver Slipper Jazz Room, has a few things going for it that no other jazz group can claim. Take the leader: In the course of two sets she displayed a pure, silken sound leading the reed section on soprano sax; at other times she was heard on alto sax, flute, piccolo and oboe. But she's just one of several mature talents in this astonishing ensemble.

Betty O'Hara sang "Nobody's Heart" in an endearingly warm voice--and soloed superbly on fluegelhorn and valve trombone. In her own composition, "Euphonics," she switched to a double-belled euphonium. She's a member of the strongest trombone quartet the band has ever had, thanks largely to the presence of Christy Belicki, a student at USC, who excelled both as lead player and soloist.

One cannot help marveling at the dedication, education and inspiration that has gone into the maintenance of this orchestra over the last six years. Where else do you find a talent like Stacy Rowles, whose legato fluegelhorn lit up "My Foolish Heart"? How many brass sections can deliver such a powerhouse performance as these nine members did on Roger Neumann's "Sandblaster"? Is there a more promising composer/arranger than the band's pianist, Liz Kinnon? Her "Early Morning" found all five saxophonists doubling delightfully on flutes, with Kathryn Moses as the featured soloist.

Maiden Voyage also has a rhythm team of unprecedented cohesion with Kinnon, Mary Ann McSweeney on bass and the award-winning drummer Jeannette Wrate.

Mix in all these plus factors, toss in other charts by Brad Dechter, Dick Cary and John Magruder, and you have a band at once so compelling and so accessible that its failure to line up a tour, a visit to Japan, even a record contract, can be ascribed only to an inexplicable lack of perceptiveness among the businessmen who control the world of music. Even without their help, Maiden Voyage remains one of the most remarkable and listenable big bands on the contemporary jazz scene.

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