Album Review of
The Power Station Sessions

Written by Joe Ross
January 21, 2023 - 8:02pm EST
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Peaking in December 2022 at #3 on The Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Jazz Album Chart, The Pat Petrillo Big Rhythm Band’s The Power Station Sessions has diverse material presented by an impressive cast of accomplished musicians led by New Jersey drummer Pat Petrillo. With jazz, rock and funk grooves, the band keeps the party up-tempo and chock full of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, guitar and rhythm instruments. Glen Burtnik’s vocals only appear in “It Won’t Be Long,” and their most relaxed arrangement appears at track eight with a medium-tempo’ed version of Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet.”

Besides drummer Pat Petrillo, some other featured band members are Tommy Timko (woodwinds), B.D. Lenz (guitar), David Cook (piano, organ),  Scott Ambush (bass), Steve Jankowski (trumpet, valve trombone), and Plinky Giglio (organ, guitar). Special guests include guitarists Oz Noy, Nile Rodgers and Felicia Collins, harmonica-player John Popper, and tenor saxophonist Lenny Pickett.  With excellent dynamics and rhythmic control, the instrumentalists exude plenty of emotional electricity and proficiency. “Runnin’” is an especially nice seven-minute showpiece for the drummer’s drive, presence and soloing.

Jankowski provided the brass arrangements for five tracks. It’s unclear who developed the full big band charts, but the songs (recorded at Power Station at Berkelee Studio C, in New York) are impressive, up-tempo statements. The soloists shine with creativity, and the entire romping big band demonstrates consistency, cohesion and richness. Tracks like “48th Street,” “Global Warming,” “Black Cow” and “Asbury Daze” give the sidemen plenty of opportunities for explosive, emotional statements. The Big Rhythm Band might be making funk-infused declarations to open the set, or coloring the closer “Hey, Pocky Way” with more rocking sensibilities. Their rendition of Steely Dan’s “Black Cow” also has some interesting interpretive twists and musical conversations.

The Pat Petrillo Big Rhythm Band’s provocative orchestrations have stylish elements of post-bop, rock and fusion making for a compelling set of progressive big band music. Marvelous big band work is anchored by pleasant arrangements, solid musicianship and diverse repertoire. The album has a consistency full of musical presence that yields bountiful rewards. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)