jamie begian - press


Big Fat Grin was included in the All About Jazz-NY "Best of 2010" listing in the Large Ensemble category!






Here are 2 reviews of our July 2010 performance at the Bahai Center:

The guitarist/composer and his seventeen-piece band performed Tuesday with a true understanding of our city. The music felt like New York in summer- loud, busy, and well-organized chaos.

The laid back leader moved through the set so easily it almost didnít seem like work.
(Layla Macoran - NY Culture Examiner, July 23 2010)


With a group this size it is possible to overuse its inherent power by pounding out wall to wall full orchestration.

Or, conversely, it is possible that some of the vast resources be underutilized by favoring a particular line-up or coloration.

Begian was not ensnared by either of these pitfalls. The full dynamic range was explored as were the personalities of the various instruments and their players.  With proponents such as this, big band jazz could well make a deserved comeback.

The Jamie Begian Big Band live is an evening well spent for any fans of traditional or modern jazz and the CD, Big Fat Grin, is highly recommended.
(Mike Reynolds, MuzikReviews.com - August 2 2010)



"This is as fine a collection of original modern jazz compositions as one could expect to find, performed flawlessly by a tight group of talented players. The listener can expect the unexpected, a solo on top of a solo, an electric guitar slide, a sudden blast of horns, the unanticipated harmony or an abrupt change of meter or tempo. Itís what keeps you wearing a big fat grin." (Mike Reynolds, MuzikReviews.com - July 22 2010)
Here's the link to the complete review


Big Fat Grin received 4 stars from All Music.com 
(review by Michael G. Nastos)


Lucid Culture
(Alan Young, July 19, 2010)

"Big Fat Grin, the new album by the Jamie Begian Big Band delivers everything a modern big band jazz outfit ought to: itís a treat for anyone who goes for an intricate mesh of textures and a BIG, boisterous, ecstatic yet cerebral sound."


"Joy is all over Big Fat Grin.  The cornerstone of Begian's writing, and inded the performance of the entire band, is that of happiness and passion.  Genre trappings and musical 'eras' be damned, this is deliciously thick jazz worth smiling about."  (Jordan Richardson, BC Music "i hear sparks" July 16 2010.

For the complete review click here.



Those of you in the NYC area can check this out in the July 2010 AAJ-NY:

"Guitarist Jamie Begian has created a stunningly original big band for the 21st Century that builds on traditions pioneered by composers, arrangers and bandleaders as diverse as Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Stan Kenton, Sun Ra and 20th Century European jazz an classical artists." (George Kanzler, All About Jazz - New York, July 2010)



Another review from AllAboutJazz.com - this time from their "extended analysis" column:

" If the music on Jamie Begian's Big Fat Grin were any bigger and fatter, the grin would challenge that of Lewis Carroll's Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland." (Raul d'Gama Rose, AllAboutJazz.com June 29, 2010) click here for the complete review



Renown journalist Richard Kamins (formerly of Cadence Magazine and the Hartford Courant) had this to say about Big Fat Grin on his blog "Step Tempest"
(June 2010)


Jazz Inside's Susan Frances writes: "As a composer and guitarist, Jamie Begian correlates instruments parts with physical movements so every track feels like it was made for the stage.  Begianís Big Band combines surprising kicks with sleekly modeled harmonies, which results in an album that partners straight-laced harmonic forms with avant-angled reclines.Ē
(Susan Frances, Jazz Inside Magazine June 2010)
  click here for the complete review

 "Big Fat Grin shows just how a talented big band can create affecting music."
(Bruce Lindsay, AllAboutJazz.com June 2, 2010)
here's a link to the complete review


"Composer-guitarist Jamie Begian is out to prove that there's still quite a bit of vitality right under the radar.  Although he began writing extended arrangements a decade ago, by 1999, when Begian first formed the 17-piece outfit he pilots now, it was clear he'd found his calling. 

Photo by Marcy Begian

The contemporary lilt in Begian's compositions has as much to do with his feeling for slippery guitaristics as it does for his wish to extend the vocabulary of iconic arranger Gil Evans.  

 Fans of Evan's classic work will understand another of Begian's uniqueness;  His horn charts play up sleek, sophisticated harmonies while remaining conscious of the kind of blues-based rhythms that move the crowd.  As the composer starts up his monthly residency at El Taller, his band is poised to remind New York jazzers of something they've been missing."  (K. Leander Williams, TIMEOUT NY. April 2004)



"I think of 'em as the little big band that could.  Begian's charts are unpredictable yet logical.  His ensemble's unity is tight enough to clarify all sorts of odd voicings.  And on infectious tunes like "Big Fat Grin"  (which seems a nod to Oliver Nelson), they put their swing front and center."  (Jim Macnie, Village Voice. April 2004)


"You may not have heard much about this creative writer's big band, but that will change soon.  He took last year's BMI Foundation/Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize for his piece "Fuzzy Math" and just recorded a CD.  His writing brings to mind a melding of Gil Evans and Thad Jones, the work of someone who appreciates big band writing of the past 30 years while working to expand it's boundaries."
(Mitchell Seidel, Hot House Magazine. July 2002)

"Composer-bandleader Jamie Begian is interested in the meticulous arithmetic of musical harmony, but not so much that it gets in the way of his will to move the crowd.  He'd rather put together a crack large ensemble and set them to work on, to quote one of his sputtering creations, "Fuzzy Math."  And Begian is not afraid to let an electric guitar take the lead from his horn players, either.  Hint: Neither was Gil Evans. "
(K. Leander Williams, TIMEOUT NY. March 2002)

"The one called "All Beans" doesn't ape Kind Of Blue, and the one called "Sorry Officer" ain't a bit apologetic - meaning this large ensemble likes to throw some curves.  It also likes to radiate: the first 15 minutes of it's live disc push some of the most gorgeous post-Gil hues in recent memory."
(Jim Macnie, Village Voice. March 2000)

"...His music is wonderfully varied and complex, a rigorous encounter with the entire history of eclectic big band composition, from Brookmeyer and Gil Evans through Maria Schneider.  Amid the groove and swing and the calmer orchestral colors, Begian displayed a talent for abstract sound sculpting."
(David Adler, AllAboutJazz.com - New York at Night.  April 2002)