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Jazz The Bill Kirchner Nonet: ''What It Is to Be Frank'' Bill Kirchner, soprano and alto saxophones, flute, clarinet, piccolo; Ralph Lalama, tenor, flute, clarinet; Glenn Wilson, baritone saxophone, flute; Bill Warfield, Brian Lynch, trumpets, flugelhorns; Douglas Purviance, bass trombone; Greg Kogan, piano; Andy McKee, bass; Steve Alcott, Charlie Braugham, bass. (Sea Breeze Jazz SD2010) - The middle-size group in jazz is a rarity these days. Ever since Miles Davis's ''Birth of the Cool'' in the '50s, it seems jazz groups have divided themselves into two camps: small combos or big bands. Bill Kirchner's nine-piece group has been playing around New York for a couple of years, and this is their first album. The band has a full, solid sound, and the soloists are high quality - a promising sign for the group. The versatility of the multi-instrumented reed section allows for variety in the writing. As for the arrangements, Kirchner has contributed three (two are his own compositions) and a couple of reorchestrations. His own writing is the most interesting on the album, especially "Theme for Gregory," which half a lovely melody, underpinned by equally pretty backgrounds and countermelodies. By contrast, the remaining material on the album, arranged by trumpleter Bill Warfiled, is somewhat self-conscious and overwrought, especially the overstated, studied "Sunny Side of the Street." Overall, though, an excellent album. If you can't find this album in your local record store, write to Sea Breeze Records, PO Box 717, Mentone, Calif, 92359.

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