By: Edward Blanco Recorded live in May 2008 at Kelly Liken restaurant in Vail, Colorado, Project Omaha brings together Saxophonist Bill Wimmer with a group of players who all shared a common bond, they all have a connection with Omaha with most starting their musical careers there. Project Omaha, which also refers to the band, presents an audacious post bop repertoire featuring assertive performance from Wimmer and the entire crew. Interesting enough it must be noted that the members of the band had not played together as a group before the opportunity to reconnect at the recording session. Joining Wimmer in Project Omaha are keyboardist and vocalist Tony Gulizia, brother Joey Gulizia on percussions, New York guitarist Dave Stryker, renowned drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Mark Luebbe. For being a live recording, the audio is first-rate and includes audience approval and words from Tony Gulizia praising the band. Kicking off the music is a hard-driving swinging rendition of Dexter Gordon's "Soy Califa" highlighted with sparkling solos from Wimmer. Stryker,=2 0Tony G. and drummer Lewis. Tony G. takes to the vocals voicing a tasteful version of the Van Heusen/Mercer jazz standard "I thought About You" complete with another Wimmer romp. Collaborating again on the Jobim medley, "Dreamer/Felicidade" Tony G. sings the love lyrics while Wimmer lays down a romantic saxophone phrasing on a tune which turns fiery and spicy on the "Felicidade" portion of the number. Wimmer is more pronounced on the Melvin Rhyne score "Rhyne, Rhythm and Song" wailing away producing electrifying sax lines marking some of his best solo shots of the album. Guitarist Stryker also weighs in on this one with superb guitar riffs. Stryker also gently introduces the love ballad "She Was Too Good To Me" voiced by Gulizia in heart-felt fashion as Wimmer's saxophone remains in the background on a lovely piece of music. Other tracks not to be missed include "Geo Rose," "Gypsy Blue"and Dave Stryker's burning finale "Carnaval." Bill Wimmer definitely has a winner on his hands, a creative endeavor with soul, swing and swagger, Project Omaha may be one of the better albums of the year. Not Bad for a bunch of guys who had not played together before. ====================== Press Quotes Midwestrecord.com "Locking in a tight groove that swings and opens your ears, it's a little retro while being very modern. Hot stuff that'll get you moving" Rotcod Zzaj AKA Dick Metcalf zzaj.freehostia,com "Though this is our first listen to Bill's work, we feel like we've known him for years...I suppose that may (par- tially) be because he has Dave Stryker doing guitar on this outing...but mostly, it's because Bill's saxophone style is timeless...he just KICKS as a leader. If you'r looking for music full of life and high energy, this is your 2009 "first pick". I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & tell you that we expect to be hearing a lot more from this very talented player." Ejazznews.com Project Omaha,which also refers to the band, presents an audacious post bop repertior featuring assertive performances from the leader and the entire crew. For being a live recording, the audio is first-rate...Bill Wimmer definitely has a winner on his hands, a creative endeavor with soul, swing and swagger, Project Omaha may be one of the better albums of the year. Not bad for a bunch of guys who had not played together before." ======================== Omaha isn't the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of very happening jazz scenes, but obviously there's something hip going on in Cornhusker country. According to saxophonist Bill Wimmer, all the musicians on this track started playing jazz in Omaha. At least two of them-guitarist Dave Stryker and drummer Victor Lewis-went on to have big-time careers in New York, but the others (Wimmer, keyboardist Tony Gulizia, percussionist Joey Gulizia, and bassist Mark Luebbe) are no slouches either. Written by Dexter Gordon, the (mostly) Latin 'Soy Califa' (it has a swinging bridge) is well-treated by the native Omaha-ians (Omaha-ites? Omaha-ers?). Wimmer plays tenor with a large, deep tone and considerable facility. Best thing about him? Although he obviously draws on the great tenors for inspiration, his style is his own. The lithe, imaginative Stryker distinguishes himself, as does the hard-swinging Lewis. Pianist Tony Gulizia is a capable soloist. His brother Joey and Luebbe combine with Lewis to forge a solid groove. This was recorded live in a Vail, Colorado, restaurant. Perhaps that means there are more good players in Omaha than there are places to perform. Nevertheless, this is a reminder that quality jazz can be found almost any- and everywhere these days. Reviewer: Chris Kelsey.
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