“This is an excellent modern big band recording with complex music that is both challenging, but also loads of fun too. Not only is Mica a top notch arranger for pieces by well-known composers such as Herbie Hancock, Harold Arlen and George Gershwin, but his original compositions are often better than the aforementioned better known composers.”
“I can’t say enough good things about this CD, this is very exciting music and highly recommended for fans of modern big band.”
“…well-executed, with phenomenal arrangements and distinguished players.”
“Bethea’s arrangements are fresh, unpredictable and incorporate a taste of the” old-school bands of the 1940’s with a fresh facelift, mixed with fusion funk that propels his music into the twenty-first century.”
“Everything about this music is enthralling and technically brilliant. There is such strength and power in this man’s arrangements.”
“There is not one bad cut on these dual discs. I spent all week listening to them with excitement and infused pleasure.”
"What can you say about a cat that’s so brimming with ideas and vigor that he doesn’t let a little quadriplegia slow him down? An ambitious double discer that finds him dishing up the same tunes live and in the studio with a crew that plays like you’ll be knowing all their names in short order, this bunch doesn’t serve it up like your father’s big band. With smoking charts and tunes at hand, this cat isn’t telling you his back story for any ‘poor me’ askance as the music that speaks for him stands straight and tall. Energetically eclectic, this set is a total cooker that’ll open your ears in fine style. Well done."
“An exceptionally gifted arranger who presents big band music that is very much of today, yet is filled with echoes of the best of the past.”
“That Mica Bethea has faced up to these challenges and overcome them is for very nearly all of us an unimaginable achievement; that the music he generates is so breathtaking, profound and joyous is an inspiration.”
"Mica Bethea has a way of combining big band sections and voices while underpinning his writing with driving funk that gives his work an urgent originality. He doesn't quite sound like anybody else out there and it will be interesting to see where his career goes from here. For now he's made a very impressive first step."
“I really enjoyed the compositions. The musicians as a band and as soloists are outstanding. I am really moved by the music and enduring strength that inspired [Mica] to write it. Each movement puts another smile on my face. I can hear flashbacks of Thad, Brookmeyer, Mintzer, and McNeely as well as his own style evolving as the Suite progressed. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have had a career if it were not for the music written by great composers such as him. Musicians will always continue to learn and evolve as long as there is music that challenges them. I hope this recording is the first of many more to come. His music delivers a powerful artistic statement on so many levels and the world needs to hear more from Mica Bethea.”
saxophonist/ multi-instrumentalist/ composer/ educator
"Composer and arranger Mica Bethea is the real deal. His latest record combines great production values with killing performances from his super solid big band. Compositionally his music tells a story through the well-crafted and well-developed arrangements while maintaining a sense of musical adventure. These are all qualities I strive for in my own music.”
trombonist/ composer/ arranger/ educator
“Mica's writing is an endless journey of magnificent imagination and craftsmanship. ... [He] is an exceptional talent weaving so many musical colors together for these beautiful compositions. This suite covers every part of the jazz musical spectrum splendidly, seemingly raising the bar with each passing phrase. The band's performance is outstanding, they made need to check if they still have all their fingers left after the session! So much to enjoy here with many wonderful performances and solos.”
saxophonist/ /composer/ arranger/ band leade
“Mica Bethea’s writing for large jazz ensemble incorporates the best of the genre’s contemporary tradition - Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Bob Mintzer, Maria Schneider - while forging ahead with an exquisite and singular voice. This is exciting and vital ensemble jazz for the 21st century. Kudos to Mica and his wonderful group of musicians on making a brilliant new statement.”
pianist/ educator/ Grammy nominee
“I am always delighted when I discover an artist who is new to me who makes a deep impression upon first listening to their music. It is not often that I hear newly written and arranged large jazz ensemble compositions that cover stylistic territory so convincingly and creatively. The writing is beautiful and colorful, always moving somewhere new, and the playing of this excellent and spirited ensemble teems with joy. The mastery and musicality is palpable.The lovely and plaintive "Birth Rite" is especially moving. I don't have enough superlatives for Mica's accomplishment here. This is a case where the music truly speaks for itself, and what it's saying to you will hit you hard and deep, right in your soul.”
“I am a product of UNF. I was there with Rich Matteson, Jack Peterson, Bill Prince and Bunky Green when this wonderful movement and first generation of Jazz at UNF in Jacksonville started. 28 years later, I must say that the flame is burning brighter than ever… This recording is first class. The arrangements by Mica are sophisticated, complex yet soulful. What a fantastic crew of cats to perform these great arrangements. This band is first class. One of those rare bands that can execute multiple styles… The writing is beyond original and spectacular.”
jazz educator/ trumpeter with the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra
“Mica Bethea has roots in the music and culture of Jazz. That means America. Jazz is America, so that means you feel the blues, swing, rhythm, funk, fusion, toe-tapping, dancing, the past, present and the future. My own soul is encouraged to hear the skill and depth in his writing, and you can hear that it has attracted the finest musicians in the area in order to realize its potential.”
Professor of Jazz Trombone at Michigan State University
two-time grammy award winning trombonist
"Mica Bethea is a talented musician who has a distinctive flair for composition and arranging. His compositions tell an interesting tale with complexity, intrigue, and unexpected twists and turns. His arrangements are swinging and uplifting. This young man has a real solid voice with his writing that reflects a keen sense of dedication and focus. Keep an eye and ear on Mica. He is poised to go on to do great things"
Grammy winning big band leader/ saxophonist/ composer
professor of Jazz Studies University of Southern California
"There's a great balance between improvisation and composition. This balance is hard to strike and can be easily over looked. It about the whole, not simply it's parts. In short, Mica provides the right measure of space for his great soloist to become an integral part of the composition. …he and his wonderful band members have created a work of art."
Saxophonist / Former President IAJE /
Former director of Jazz Studies University of North Florida
"That's as good as it gets and stands up against anything in the country - and the world for that matter."
-Dr. Bill Prince
Professor Emeritus at University of North Florida /composer / multi-instramentalist