New album from the jazz fusion outfit.
With Steppin' Out, the group's collaboration with the WDR Big Band of Cologne, Mainieri is able to realize some classic Steps Ahead compositions in new surroundings, courtesy of the WDR's Brooklyn-born conductor and arranger Michael Abene.
Abene's musical contributions can be heard on the new intros and interludes along with the subtle reharmonizations, rich voicings and savvy bits of counterpoint he creates on classic Steps Ahead pieces like Don Grolnick's 'Pools' (from 1983's Steps Ahead), Mainieri's urgently swinging 'Steppish' (from 1992's Yin-Yang) and 'Blue Montreux' (title track of a live 1979 album by the Arista All-Stars featuring Mainieri recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival).
But Abene's crowning achievement as arranger on Steppin' Out just might be his gorgeous writing for Mainieri's poignant and lyrical 'Self Portrait' (from 1983's Modern Times). The band of all-stars featured with Mainieri on this stellar encounter with the WDR Big Band includes tenor saxophonist and former Miles Davis sideman Bill Evans, drummer Steve Smith, guitarist Chuck Loeb and bassist Tom Kennedy.
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