Live from New York! (2013) by Mike Longo and the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble is the kind of concert performance that sets itself apart from other recordings. The concept of going into Gillespie Auditorium, setting up some microphones and recording with an intimate audience is familiar to fans who’ve heard albums like Maynard Ferguson’s M.F. Horn 4 & 5 Live at Jimmy’s.

Pianist Longo mostly serves as part of the rhythm section, instead putting the horns out front. With him are Tom Hubbard, bass; and Mike Campenni, drums. The trumpets are Chris Rogers, John Replogle, Brian Davis and Waldron Ricks. The trombones are Sam Burtis, Nick Finzer, Nick Grinder and Earl McIntyre (bass). And the saxophones are producer Bob Magnuson (alto), Lee Greene (alto), Frank Perowsky (tenor), Mike Migliore (tenor) and Matt Snyder (baritone). Vocalist Ira Hawkins appears on three tracks.

The set begins with a swinging rendition of Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not.” The 13-piece horn section is at the heart, each group moving in and out of the front but at times the entire ensemble working together. Davis, Greene, Long and Perowsky are the soloists. But the highlight is the power of the full ensemble, whether the horns are harmonizing or injecting overlapping phrases.

The intense “Yoko Mama,” one of three Longo originals, is easily one of the more enjoyable songs. Solos are by Rogers, McIntyre (bass trombone) and Greene (alto). During each, Longo, Hubbard and Campenni get their grooves on. The centerpiece is McIntyre’s throaty grind. The trumpets come in during the latter part of Greene’s solo, setting the audience up for the full band.

Rogers and Perowsky are featured on the closing track, “Wee.” It’s a high-energy piece that showcases the strength and beauty of a saxophone section playing the same notes, many of them in high-speed succession. The trumpets and trombones are also dynamic.
Longo and Magnuson provide personal notes about the performance in the liner. Longo arranged all but one track.

Longo spent several years in Dizzy Gillespie’s band. A native of Cincinnati, he began playing piano at the age of 3, thanks to his church organist mother and part-time jazz bassist father. After a move to Florida, 15-year-old Longo began working with his dad’s band on weekends and eventually was heard by Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. He later earned a bachelor of music degree in classical piano at Western Kentucky State University. Longo’s stage and studio associations include Gene Krupa, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Zoot Sims, Astrud Gilberto, Buddy Rich and others. Live from New York! is the third release by Longo and New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble.