Formed in 1999, Octobop is an octet based in Northern California that has 1950s West Coast jazz as its roots. It does not stick exclusively to that idiom and repertoire, certainly stretching a bit on their seventh CD, but collectors who enjoy cool jazz will find much to savor on this CD.
The group (Geoff Roach on baritone, tenor and soprano, Eric Patience doubling on tenor and alto, trumpeter Randy Smith, trombonist Jon Schermer, guitarist Jack Conway, vibraphonist Dave Casini, bassist Brian Brockhouse and drummer Frank Wyant) is comprised of excellent musicians and colorful soloists who know the style very well and can make a strong statement in a relatively brief period of time.
On Live @ Savana Jazz, Octobop's repertoire is pretty wide-ranging, not only including "Get Happy," Dizzy Gillespie's "Tanga," "The Wind" and the swinging "Bandstand Boogie" but an inventive remake of Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp" and the Allman Brothers' "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed." Whether it is Duke Ellington's "The Mooche," Charles Mingus' "Nostalgia In Times Square," Lennie Niehaus obscure "Figure 8" or their three originals (including "Theme For An Imaginary Sitcom"), Octobop finds a way of making each song their own while retaining their signature sound in the tradition of the Dave Pell Octet.
Octobop is a group well worth discovering and Live @ Savanna Jazz (available from www.octobop.com) gives listeners a strong sampling of their music.