Joe Mongelli: Washashore

by Bea Willis

Massachusetts based trumpet/flugelhorn player Joe Mongelli leads a great group through a set of ten well-known standards with hip arrangements entitled, WashAshore. Mongelli refers to the band as The Cape Jazz Crew, which is: Ron Ormsby: bass Fred Boyle: piano, Steve Langone: drums (except tracks 3, 4, 8), Bart Weisman: drums (tracks 4 & 8), Alan Clinger: guitar (track 6) and Bruce Abbott: flute (track 4). Mongelli’s arrangements are superb and the playing is inspired and highly melodic with tight ensemble playing and listening.

From the opening pedal point over a relaxed groove with hip piano voicings of “I Got It Bad,” Mongelli makes it clear that these well-known standards are going to be presented in a way that is fresh, modern and full of hip improvisations, sounds and colors. Over a straight eight Latin feel, Mongelli states the melody with confidence and a big brass tone. The arrangement is outstanding, with interludes, excellent re-harmonization’s and band figures that punctate key elements of the melody and form.  Boyle’s piano solo builds; Mongelli follows suite, with a building melodic solo that makes the melody clear, but still has excitement and relaxed phrasing

“Doxy” has been getting a workout at almost every jam session since it first appeared on the 1957 Miles Davis album, Bags’ Groove. The Sonny Rollins melody is given a new arrangement for the band to explore. Mongelli uses a muted trumpet sound to get a nice cool vibe. With an excellent flute and trumpet melody that brings in nice colors and interesting melodic statements for a shout chorus effect. Abbott’s flute turns in a fine musical statement, followed by Mongelli’s solo that is full of swinging phrases and melodic clarity.

Joe Mongelli and the Cape Jazz Crew know that jazz fans love standards, and the only thing we love more than our standards, is excellent arrangements of standards, and that is just what Mongelli provides on WashAshore. Mongelli is a wonderful trumpet and flugelhorn player, but it does not stop there, his arranging skills are simply inspired and that is the reason WashAshore is so fun to listen to, we get to enjoy all the surprises because we know the source material so well! Great band, great playing and outstanding arrangements, Joe and the Jazz Crew deliver all three on this one record, and that IS good!


Tracks to sample first: “I Got it Bad,” “Till There Was You,” and “Where or When/I Thought About You.” The song to take a chance on is “Watermelon Man”.


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