Bill Laurance, keyboard/pianist virtuoso, of Snarky Puppy fame recently performed a short concert series with the world famous WDR Big Band. The band was conducted by Bob Mintzer (saxophonist from The Yellowjackets) and the result was an extraordinary brilliant performance by all concerned. Previously Bill has toured not only with the Pups but also as a solo act and a quartet.
His own albums include Flint, Swift, After Sun, and Live at Union Chapel (with Michael League, Felix Higginbottom and Robert “Sput” Searight. It was on the Live at Union Chapel that we got a taste of how Bill’s tunes would sound in smaller combos, arranged as he originally intended. Specifically, the tune Ready Wednesday is always a fan favorite and to hear it with different arrangements is always intriguing. Of course that was included here as the encore as well.
Of particular wonder to me was the opening of the second set when Bill decided to improvise an “unknown” segment which sequed into his solo piece from “The Curtain” off the Snarky Puppy Sylva album. Of course this disc was performed with the Metropole Orkest and won a grammy in 2016 for Best Contemporary Instrumental album. Love how the big band was used in a complementary fashion throughout the concert. A highlight was the extensive use of piccolo and flute throughout but in particular on the closer. Here’s the link to the full show. Enjoy!
Update 11-27-18 – The videos can currently be found in two sets here on the WDR Big Band Website –