Composer/Arranger Michael Treni's CD/DVD "Turnaround" Released on November 24 by Bell Production Company


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Project Showcases Original Music Recorded in 2008 & 2009 Performed By Large Jazz Ensembles Featuring Jerry Bergonzi, Vinnie Cutro & The Late Gerry Niewood

Turnaround, a CD/DVD project documenting performances of eight original works by composer and arranger Michael Treni scored for a 16-piece jazz ensemble, is set for release on November 24, 2010 by the Bell Production Company. Among the personnel on the CD, which was recorded in February 2009 and February 2008, are saxophonists Jerry Bergonzi and Frank Elmo (2009), trumpeter Vinnie Cutro and pianist Charles Blenzig (2008 & 2009) and, in one of his last known studio sessions, the late alto saxophonist Gerry Niewood (2008). Copies of Turnaround may be ordered at bellproductionco.com.

Like a lush tapestry, the state-of-the-art recording showcases Treni's multi-faceted skills as a writer and orchestrator of music that takes full advantage of the broad sonic palette represented by the array of talented instrumentalists at his disposal. It serves up a stunning spectrum of styles ranging from the hard driving “Turnaround," to the sensual Latin rhythms of “Unity," “Awhile" and the bossa nova “Tender Moments," the funky “Tenor Brio," the swaggering “Blues For Charlie" and the impressionistic tone poem “Lady Mariko." Rarely receiving the opportunities to solo that other members of large jazz ensembles do, Treni also improves the lot of his fellow trombonists - at least for six minutes and 36 seconds - with “Bone Happy" a swinging number that features himself and the four members of the trombone section.

As articulate with words as he is with musical notes Treni comments below about the craft of jazz composing:

“Jazz composers typically start out as jazz instrumentalists, who for one reason or another decide that they would rather play and record their own music. This was certainly the case with me. Though I had enjoyed playing in big bands for years, one thing had always troubled me about big band jazz music. As soon as someone started to improvise no more than eight measures would typically go by before the horn sections started playing background figures, and these figures usually got in the way of the soloist. Fairly early in my playing career I formed an opinion that the only environment where a soloist could truly have the freedom to express his ideas was in a small group.

Once I began writing, it didn't take me long to appreciate the compositional craft employed by the great instrumental composers; the inventive counterpoint, the lush harmonies, the brilliant orchestrations, and the organizational structures that would (hopefully) hold the listener's attention. Though I wasn't interested in playing this music myself, I found myself wondering if there was a way that a jazz composer could employ this level of compositional sophistication while preserving the integrity of the improviser's art form. I concluded that it was possible, provided the composer had sufficient knowledgeable of both the compositional and improvisational crafts.

Telling musicians what notes to play, how to play them, and when to play them may work in classical music, but it doesn't work in jazz where self-expression of the individual is the essence of the music. Yet jazz ensembles, especially larger ones, require some “regulation", at least a framework, if not an arrangement. Any conductor will tell you that the more performers there are the more difficult it is to get them to play together. Music that is totally improvised can be difficult to control. One might argue that such a system limits the number of musicians that can perform at any given time; too many musicians playing the wrong thing at the wrong time and the performance slips into chaos.

I believe that the solution is to strike a balance between the two extremes, one that offers a framework that enhances the performers' ability to play together as an ensemble, while at the same time providing as many opportunities as possible for the creative expression of the individual. Such an arrangement, as demonstrated in Turnaround, offers the best of both worlds.

About Michael Treni

Michael Treni grew up in Hamden, CT, and Falmouth, ME, where he studied trombone with Sonny Costanza, Don Doane and later, Phil Wilson in Boston. He was named Best Musician at the first New England High School Jazz Festival in 1969 and although he was offered a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, enrolled at the University of Miami where at age 19 he joined the jazz teaching staff while still a student. At Miami Treni formed a band called Kaleidoscope with a classmate, Pat Metheny, and also played regularly with Jaco Pastorius, Jerry Coker and Ira Sullivan; performed in Florida with The Tonight Show Orchestra; and backed Paul Anka, Sammy Davis, Ann Margaret, Tom Jones and other entertainers performing in Miami Beach.

Upon graduating in 1973, Treni began work on a Master's in Theory & Composition, but before completing his degree accepted a faculty position at Berklee where he taught arranging and trombone. In 1976, he moved to New York where he played with Tom Harrell, Chuck Loeb, Bobby Watson and other emerging artists; in 1978 he was being considered by Art Blakey to fill the trombone chair in The Jazz Messengers before Curtis Fuller decided to return to the band. Treni continued to perform around the city with his 13-piece band, Jazz Horizons Orchestra while also playing in Broadway pit orchestras and working on the New York studio scene arranging and composing music for recordings, films and jingles.

Treni left the music business in 1985 to start the company, Conference-Mate Systems, that over the next 15 years, became a leading manufacturer of wireless audio and language interpretation systems used by Federal and State courts throughout the U.S. (he holds two U.S. Patents for wireless devices). He returned to teaching, writing, and performing upon retiring from business in 1997.

In addition to Turnaround (2009), Treni has also released the recordings Unity (2008) and Detour! Jazz Composers Workshop Orchestra Plays The Music Of Mike Treni (2007).

This story appears courtesy of MFA - Mitchell Feldman Associates.
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