JP Sextet

Little Black Dog


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Bruce Von Stiers, BVS Reviews (Little Black Dog Review-Highlights)
It’s a collection of jazz songs that have deliciously unique arrangements. My favorite song on the album is a rendition of Freddy Hubbard’s “Straight Life.” This song has so much energy it’s hard to explain. But it is a toe tapping, body swaying good time of a song. Joel blasts away on his horn and the rest of the band keeps pace with him. Joel Penner is a really good trumpet player. The musicians that he got together for The Joel Penner Sextet play well and have an awesome combined sound.If you haven’t heard “The Church of The Little Black Dog,” you are missing one of the best jazz albums that has been recorded in the last few years.
(Read Full Review Here)

John Gilbert (Johnnyjazz), EJazz News (Little Black Dog Review- Full)
This sextet has a big band quality that jumps right at you with super arrangements and hip soloists. "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" is highlighted by leader Penners cool flugelhorn solo. This tune gets off the ground in a hurry. "T & G" is another gem from the pen of Doug MacDonald, a guitarist of impeccable style along with an uncanny ability to make any tune swing. Solid piano and floogie solos are bebop at its best. MacDonald's solo is pure magic with ideas that romp along beautifully. Some great exchanges add additional hipness to an already hip composition. This is a quality ensemble with first class players, top notch arrangements and above all great tunes from the masters, performed with due deference to them. I recommend this album highly. 5 Stars

Nicholas Sheffo, Fulvue Drive-In (Little Black Dog Review-Highlights)
Another great grouping of Jazz musicians can be heard on the new CD Joel Penner Sextet – The Church Of The Little Black Dog, some very energy-laden performances. the musicians love the music and the CD is one of the best group efforts to date in the genre we have come across, so serious Jazz fans should consider this one required listening.
(Read Full Review Here)

Karl Stober, EJazz News (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
"Church Of The Little Black Dog" is a lesson in how "cool" goes into meltdown, rich in sound and free to express rhythm. Leader Joel Penner seizes his horn and lights up the sound waves with his band to ignite a driven and focused lesson in groove. A passionate love affair with jazz is expressed in this effort. Forget what others may say, "Church Of The Little Black Dog" is a heated listen and one that stays with you! Released by Sea Breeze Jazz in 2005 the concealed talents of Joel Penner Sextet are unearthed, set astray on those who enjoy dynamic arrangements. Innovative and diverse is one way to express this sextet as they act upon their talents. "Invitation" is almost nine minutes of brass ecstasy wrapped in smooth. In comes the keyboard which solo's with ease and the sax drives an outro with force. This is a very fine piece of jazz resonance! Keep in mind this is a sextet with big band appeal…and it works! Raksin's classic "Laura" flows with warmth and subtle tones from all directions at the start. Suddenly the Latin ambiance takes the listener into overdrive and attains the task set upon from the birth of the arrangement. Note the trumpet work of Penner and the ivory piece of Gengiz Yaltkaya, pure and precise energy. "Church Of The Little Black Dog" is one cool sermon you need not miss for the lesson of sound will stay with you always!

Jim Santella, LA Jazz Scene (The Little Black Dog-Full Review)
Moving seamlessly between ensemble passages and creative soloing, Joel Penner's sextet rewards his audience with a session filled with pleasant surprises. The leader, a local trumpeter and veteran of California jazz from San Diego to San Francisco, brings a bright, resonant tone, brilliant articulation, and remarkable agility to his audience through his horns. Penner's brassy trumpet and mellow flugelhorn form a cohesive sound that proves both fluid and energized. With him on the program are saxophonist Michael Rose, pianist Cengiz Yaltkaya, guitarist Doug MacDonald, bassist Bill von Ravensberg and drummer Steve Pemberton. "Invitation" features MacDonald's lyrical guitar in a smooth ensemble mix that comes loaded with passion. Delicately he caresses the melody in a knowing manner while the sextet forms circles of consonant harmony alongside. Penner's flugelhorn provides just the right touch. "Laura" contains a hot, contemporary outlook that relies on bright Latin rhythms to deliver its romantic message. Keith Jarrett's "The Windup" romps fast and furious with an attitude that introduces elements of Americana and traditional jazz into its formula. With this bold venture, the sextet seems to enjoy melding its straight-ahead jazz textures with a traditional New Orleans bounce. Recommended, Penner's album suits the mainstream while adding fresh ideas to the formula along the way.

Skope Magazine, (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
The star-studded list of session and live experiences of the individual members of this left-coast jazz crew could have served to ruin their joint output, but the oldies they chose were given full-spa treatments that leave no room for improvement. Leadoff track "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" does up the Cole Porter standard with Glenn Miller panache and Weather Report levels of craftsmanship, former Boston Pops drummer Steve Pemberton tossing out impossible paradiddles as if he were feeding pigeons in the park. Although bandleader Penner's trumpet abilities are Jedi-level, he's generous with the spotlight, allowing Joe-Farrell-trained sax player Michael Rose plenty of room to stretch out; later on, Penner, Rose and ex-Buddy Rich guitarist Doug MacDonald share equal billing in Bronislau Kaper's "Invitation." One of the nicest bits here is, surprisingly enough, a "My Funny Valentine" that's neither hopelessly mawkish nor Sominex minimalist; Pemberton executes a surgical waltz beat underneath what eventually morphs into a brand new James Bond-ish melody. The one original, MacDonald's "T & G," is an upbeat jam that rounds out the rest of the choices in genial fashion. Not one hack to be heard - this is the disc of modernized ballroom your bottle of Dom has been waiting for.

J-Sin, Smother Magazine (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
Wag the dog? In this case it's uptempo jazz swing doing all the wagging. Vibrant bass lines that are rich in rhythm and played with ferocious skill dominate the mix as the piano player plunks on. These are all highly skilled musicians who know a thing or three about assembling great jazz compositions - a rare feat and one to be admired heavily.

Aaron Fensterheim, My Kind of Jazz, WXEL-FM, West Palm Beach, FL (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
Strange name for a CD "The Church of the Little Black Dog" but don't let that stop you from putting this CD on your playlist. Strong ensemble and solo work by all the members. Nice take on Hubbard's "Straight Life" and Keith Jarrett's "The Windup".
Major group needing more exposure.

Glenn Astarita, All About (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
This cheery modern/mainstream jazz jubilee is brought to us by West Coast trumpeter Joel Penner and his sextet. Penner and saxophonist Michael Rose render snazzy, finger-snapping charts through vigorously flowing swing, jazz-funk and other styles. The band also delves into Latin terrain, along with fast-paced bop lines. The highlight for me is their radiant, quasi-jazz-shuffle-blues spin on Keith Jarrett's "The Windup," where guitarist Doug Macdonald trades sprightly fours with the soloists as they respectively redefine melodies and harmonic intervals. Ultimately, Penner and his sextet churn out a series of stridently conceived and slightly edgy jazz standards. It's a workmanlike effort, performed with passion and gusto.

Marshall Bowden, Jazzitude (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
The little black dog in question is Penner's dachsund, chihuahua, pit bull mix, named Jasmine, and she contributes some vocal work on the CD's final track, a version of Airto Moreira's "Tombo In 7/4.". She is a cute little one, with super-large, pointy ears and a cute, quizzical expression. The pup also served to pique my curiosity about this disc, even though I could clearly see from the track listing that we were dealing with an array of jazz standards for the most part. I'm happy to report that the Joel Penner Sextet has a winner with Church of the Little Black Dog, which turns out to be a straightforward sextet that offers some nice twists on the arrangements of these tunes. In addition, Penner and his band play well and don't seem to find it difficult to keep the listener's interest throughout. "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home Through" starts things off by creating a large group sound for the sextet, with a nice intro on which Penner plays the leading figure and saxophonist Michael Rose blows some nice tenor responses. Then it's off on the tune, with some nice ensemble playing that shows some effort has been put into the arrangements. They're all done by Rick Hils, who also contributes organ/synthesizer to the Airto number. Next is the old standby "Invitation," done as an easy swing number with a hint of Latin, courtesy of guest percussionist M.B. Gordy. Guitarist Doug MacDonald gets off a really nice guitar solo, while Penner and Rose outline chords behind him. The Freddy hubbard tune "Straight Life" introduces a bit of a funkier groove and gives the band a chance to demonstrate that they can play equally well in less traditional styles. Penner's solo builds nicely, and nearly everyone gets in on the act, with pianist Gengiz Yaltkaya, MacDonald, and drummer Steve Pemberton all taking solo turns. Rose really pushes it to the boiling point in his brief solo, throwing in a few squeaks and squawks that give his solo an edge. According to Penner's website, the set list of this CD came to him in a dream, and he felt that "Laura" would be the focus of the album. The intro is a familiar ballad, with Penner stating the theme simply, yet eloquently. However, it doesn't take long for the song to morph into an all-out Latin jazz number, complete with percussion and great drumming. The band is more than up to the task, playing a great round of solos and jamming through the montuno section. It was exciting to see Keith Jarrett's "The Windup" on the track listing, because it's always been a favorite performance by Jarrett's 'European' quartet. The group attacks the piece with energy, and the arrangement, which passes the melody around between the horns and the piano, is tight and exciting. Penner takes it to church at the start of his solo, which he plays backed only by drummer Pemberton before the whole rhythm section kicks in again and carries him along. Yaltkaya plays his best solo on this track, fittingly, since a pianist wrote it. By the end of these middle two tracks, I was breathless. "My Funny Valentine" allows for some breath-catching, and Penner plays this trumpeter must-do standard beautifully. His tone is clearer and brighter than either Miles or Chet Baker on their versions of the tune, yet it does not lack an element of wistfulness. Rounding out the set are guitarist MacDonald's composition "T&G," which provides the basis for a basic blowing session, and Moreira's "Tombo in 7/4," which besides being in 7/4 is also a very energetic tune. Church of the Little Black Dog is one of those really nice surprises that you get when you review records regularly. It's unpretentious, shows something of the personality of the musicians behind the music, but most importantly, the music itself is well-crafted and wholly entertaining. - Buy this album.

Michael P. Gladstone, All About (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
Penner gets off to a fine start with a little big band sound on Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," with a much bigger sound than you'd expect from a sextet. Among some of the other highlights are a different tempo on the Bronislau Kaper jazz standard "Invitation," which includes a tasty Doug MacDonald guitar solo. Freddie Hubbard's 1970s hit "Straight Life" serves as a springboard for Michael Rose's tenor sax and Steve Pemberton's drums. "Laura" begins life as a pretty ballad, with Penner stating David Raksin's theme, but shortly the tempo morphs into spirited Latin jazz per M.B. Gordy's percussive heat, in addition to more tenor sax from Rose and guitar from MacDonald. Finally, Joel Penner concludes the track with a torrid solo. Penner also gets the opportunity to shine on the Rodgers and Hart standard "My Funny Valentine," which includes a shifting time signature. Doug MacDonald contributes an original, "T & G," with another fine guitar solo. The album concludes with a bit of excitement in the group's treatment of Airto Moreira's "Tombo in 7/4," which appropriately features a percussive finale.

Jim Santella, Cadence Magazine (Little Black Dog Review)
This features trumpeter Joel Penner with his sextet in a program of familiar standards and several pleasant surprises. Saxophonist Michael Rose and guitarist Doug MacDonald serve as equitable musical partners as the front line gives this ensemble a glad caress for each melody. Penner's trumpet and flugelhorn provide the session with a mellow tone and seamless phrasing and he shares the spotlight with his band mates. His arias on "Laura" soar tenderly, making use of the trumpeter's greatest asset: the expressive manner with which he interprets a song. Penner relies on his down-to-earth honesty to communicate with his audience. He communicates musically the same way a doctor assures his patients: with a sincere approach and honesty. The sextet's interpretation of Keith Jarrett's "The Windup" gives the album a gospel aura that makes you feel that you're at home with friends and neighbors. Freddie Hubbard's "Straight Life" provides a charged atmosphere that revels in its Caribbean rhythmic landscape. Here, Penner emulates Hubbard briefly, moving away from the pattern that he's established throughout the rest of the session. "Tombo in 7/4", celebrates with a samba flavor, putting the sextet in a fiery mode that excites. With its eclectic program of Straight-Ahead fun, the Joel Penner Sextet brings itself right into your circle of friends to remain ever faithful to the tradition.

O's Notes, (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
This is a swinging sextet with a lot of energy. They breathe life into eight jazz standards to get you tapping your feet starting with "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To". Joel leads the charge on trumpet along with Michael Rose (sax), Cengiz Yaltkaya (piano), Doug MacDonald (guitar), Bill Von Ravernsberg (bass) and Steve Pemberton (drums). Doug picks up the melody on "Invitation" and adds a cool solo on "Straight Life". The brass accents are crisp as they move into Latin jazz space on "Laura". Penner switches to flugelhorn for "My Funny Valentine" to round out a very good session!

Lois DeSocio, (Little Black Dog-Full Review)
Featured Artist - Trumpeter, flugelhorn master and bandleader, Joel Penner and his sextet of some of the world’s most accomplished and respected musicians have released their second general jazz CD, “The Church of The Little Black Dog”. It’s big band and beyond, a mixture of jazz classics, Latin, a bit of be-bop and inspirational funk. The disc opens opens with Cole Porter’s, “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.” Rick Hils’ original arrangement is all big band with upbeat, jumping, jazzy solos. Tune number two, Bronislau Kaper’s “Invitation” is finger-snapping cool; slowly swinging its way through solos without missing a beat. Keep snapping. “Straight Life,” a Freddy Hubbard tune is spirited, funky and moves to the beat of an authoritative drum. The arrangement of the classic, “Laura,” by David Raskin is anything but classic. In fact, it’s a modernized merging of drum solos with Latin overtones that compliments Raskin’s mesmerizing melody. “The Windup,” by Keith Jarrett is all playful piano, happy horns, dynamic drums, and guitar solos, all culminating in a round of rhythm. “My Funny Valentine” is as unpredictable as love—it blooms slowly; escalating into a lovely, pure rendition of Richard Roger’s ballad that lingers after it’s over. Guitarist Doug McDonald composed “T & G” which be-bops like the best of them in simple, uncluttered fashion. But the best is saved for last—the joyful, “Tombo in 7/4” by Airto Moreira. It’s Latin-infused and will make you want to rumba. It’s got it all—including synthesizer (by arranger Rick Hils, who joins the band for this track,) whistles, great drums, and a bluesy bark by Jasmine herself.

Paula Craven-Edelstein, Sounds of Timeless Jazz (Little Black Dog-Review Highlights)
Joel Penner's debut on Sea Breeze Records is a very good indication of his ability to interpret such priceless standards as "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To", "Laura", and "My Funny Valentine". The ensemble does a good job with the song selection and "The Church of The Little Black Dog" should introduce Penner to a wider audience.

Dr. Brad Stone, Music Dir. KSJS-FM, San Jose, California (Little Black Dog Review)
I really dug your stuff!! (particularly “The Windup”). I love your rendition of “Tombo in 7/4” too.

Joe Kocherhans, Program Dir. KSDS-FM, San Diego, California (Little Black Dog Review)
I really like this CD!

Howard Sharper, Program Mgr. WUCX-FM, Univ. Center, Michigan (Little Black Dog Review)
I love the music, good job!

Doug Gruber, Jazz Coordinator, WBOI-FM, Fort Wayne, Indiana (Little Black Dog Review)
Great sound!

Dave Martin, Music Dir. WUCF-FM, Orlando, Florida (Little Black Dog Review)
I really liked the record!

Bruce Von Stiers, BVS Reviews (DragonJazz Review)
Joel Penner is a man with many talents. He does acupuncture, lectures on Chinese medicine and has even written a couple of books. But more than that, Joel is an accomplished trumpet and flugelhorn player. Joel has put together a group he calls the Joel Penner Sextet. They have recorded a couple of albums, the first of which is “DragonJazz”. This album is full of distinctive arrangements of some great jazz classics. There are eight songs on the album for just under an hour's worth of terrific jazz music. One song that Joel does exceptionally well on the album is Jerome Kern's The Way You Look Tonight. It has a lot of energy with Joel on trumpet, Michael Rose on tenor sax and Bill von Ravensberg on bass. The song also featured Cengiz Yaltkaya on piano, Doug MacDonald on guitar and Jerry Redmond playing the drums. Another oKern song is nicely done here. Joel does a great job with the flugelhorn on this song, which is called All The Things You Are. There is a real fine guitar solo on the song by Doug MacDonald. Clifford Brown's light and breezy Joy Spring is on the album too. This song showcases Michael Rose's sax playing along with Joel's trumpet. A couple of songs with women's names are included. These songs are Jeannine and Anita. Anita is slow and easy while Jeannine is faster and full of energy. The other songs on the album are Easy Living, No Lava and Speak Low. Easy Living sounds just like the title, light and easy going. Speak Low is a zippy little tune and No Lava has a lot of action. Besides the people that I mentioned earlier, Allen Kalinsksy helped out on guitar and Lee Spath did some drums. Joel Penner gives the listener a terrific bunch of songs to listen to. He and the other members of the Joel Penner Sextet put a lot of energy into the music. You can tell that they had a good time recording this album.

Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene (DragonJazz Review)
The arrangements are sophisticated and sometimes tricky while allowing plenty of room for solos. These are excellent musicians who clearly enjoy playing together.
(Read Full Review Here)

Claudia Russell, Music Dir., KSDS-FM, San Diego California (DragonJazz Review)
We are playing the hell out of this CD!

Jack Simpson, WUCF-FM, Orlando, Florida (DragonJazz Review)
I took one listen to this CD and now I play it on all of my shows.

Bob Comden, LA Jazz Scene (Live Performance Review)
The group opened with a swinging version of “Jeannine.” Hils, Rose and Penner added some fine solo work on this one. Pemberton is a first rate drummer and really pushed the band hard. The closing tune was an up tempo “Be My Love.” Penner’s crisp trumpet work was energizing.
(Read Full Review Here)

Vanessa Mejia, The U.C. Riverside Highlander (Live Performance Review)
The musical group brought quality music to the jazz-hungry ears of U.C.R. Joel Penner’s trumpet stood out.
(Read Full Review Here)

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