(2 customer reviews)

“John La Barbera’s well-framed charts tantalize the ears and quicken the heart…” ALL ABOUT JAZZ With his career at the highest levels of the music industry spanning a half-century, Grammy® nominated composer/arranger John La Barbera doesn’t have much left to prove, so gathering a band of equals in New York City and spending some time…



“John La Barbera’s well-framed charts tantalize the ears and quicken the heart…”


With his career at the highest levels of the music industry spanning a half-century, Grammy® nominated composer/arranger John La Barbera doesn’t have much left to prove, so gathering a band of equals in New York City and spending some time recording his latest & best hard-swinging arrangements makes good sense! Along with his equally storied brothers, saxophonist Pat and drummer Joe, La Barbera fills Grooveyard with jazz royalty, including Steve Wilson, Renee Rosnes, Clay Jenkins, and the legendary bassist, Rufus Reid, for a set of four arranged tunes from Brubeck, Curtis Fuller, Elvin Jones, and the title track from pianist Carl Perkins, and six of his own original compositions. Thanks to his early career in helping to define the sounds of the Buddy Rich Band, Woody Herman, Bill Watrous and so many others, La Barbera’s works have become jazz big band standards, his luminous orchestrations, contrapuntal writing, and rhythmic and textural variety combining to create unforgettable musical moments.


  1. Grooveyard 6:40
  2. My New Summer Samba 6:27
  3. For Iola 7:15
  4. Thanks Hank 8:11
  5. Tranesome 6:59
  6. Choro Para Thiago 4:10
  7. K’s Delight 5:34
  8. Mandatory Blues 6:06
  9. Sweetness 6:23
  10. Keiko’s Birthday March 6:39

All music composed by John P. La Barbera (Deaver Enterprises ASCAP), except:
(1) Carl Perkins (Second Floor Music)(3) Dave Brubeck (Derry Music Company)
(9) Curtis Fuller (Second Floor Music)
(10) Elvin Jones (EMI Unart Catalog Inc. BMI)


John La Barbera Big Band:
John La Barbera – leader, conductor & arranger
Steve Wilson – lead alto, flute
Erica von Kleist – alto, flute
Pat La Barbera – tenor, soprano
Sam Sadigursky – tenor, clarinet
Andy Gutauskas – baritone, bass clarinet
Juan Ruiz – clarinet (6)
John Chudoba – trumpet (lead)
Brian Pareschi – trumpet (lead, 7 & 9)
Brandon Lee – trumpet
Clay Jenkins – trumpet
Ryan Keberle – trombone (lead)
Mike Davis – trombone (lead, 9)
Sara Jacovino – trombone
David Taylor – bass trombone
Brandon Coleman – guitar
Renee Rosnes – piano & keyboards
Rufus Reid – acoustic bass
Frank Gravis – electric bass
Kiko Sebrian – percussion
Joe La Barbera – drums


Produced by John P. La Barbera
Recorded by Chris Allen/Assistant Engineer: Steven Sacco
at Sear Sound, New York City
Percussion Recording & ProTools – Edits: Adam Copelin, TNT Studios, Louisville, KY
March 22-23, 2023 & April 15, 2023 (percussion)
Mixed & mastered by Chris Allen at The Mud Room, NYC
Band photos by Charles Levin
Cover design by Edward La Barbera
Cover Art Painting ‘Groove Yard’ by Marie La Barbera
Cover design & layout by John Bishop

2 reviews for Grooveyard

  1. Nick Mondello

    The geometry, if you will, of a terrific big band recording is such that the three major elements—the players, the arrangements, and the performance—balance in every regard. Grooveyard from the John La Barbera Big Band is such an offering. The album features ten masterfully selected, arranged, and performed selections, each containing outstanding section, solo, and ensemble playing.
    Wes Montgomery’s “Grooveyard” launches a hip, swinging first chorus in which tenor man Pat LaBarbera and guitarist Brandon Coleman provide fine solos. The upbeat momentum continues with the serendipitous melody and Chick Corea-like feel of “My New Summer Samba.” Dave Brubeck’s salute to his spouse, the lovely waltz “Iola,” is a showcase for pianist Renee Rosnes (who shines here and throughout the session). Long a Mancini acolyte, La Barbera’s “Thanks Hank” is a slick hat-tip to Henry Mancini and that Master’s stylings. Close your eyes and you are at a ’50s smoke-filled “Mother’s.”

    La Barbera, who earned his “made man” status writing extensively for the Buddy Rich Band, possesses a superb arranging style in which there is a surprise around every corner. He shrewdly presents material to these New York A-Listers which challenges and encourages them, and they respond with vigor. Unlike his Rich material which framed the firebrand, these arrangements offer extensive use of woodwind colorings and slick orchestration doublings. One example among many is the Latin “Choro Para Thiago” in which clarinetists Juan Ruiz and Sam Sadigursky present melodic joy, even offering two sly Dizzy Gillespie tune nods—”And Then She” and Salt Peanuts.”In addition to the fine woodwind and brass section playing, lead trumpeter John Chudoba and lead trombonist Ryan Keberle forge things ahead. The outstanding rhythm section of Rosnes, Rufus Reid, and brother Joe La Barbera provides dynamic energy throughout. A magnanimous leader, La Barbera offers extensive opportunities for soloists to shine. Trumpeter Brandon Lee does just that on La Barbera’s “Messenger”-like original, “K’s Delight.” “Mandatory Blues” is a “Tom Cat” creeper, offering great solos from Steve Wilson and Clay Jenkins. Elvin Jones “Keiko’s Birthday March” is a flat-out burner which showcases drummer Joe La Barbera’s paradiddling, with sibling Pat parrying away furiously and delivering a perfectly apropos closer.
    “Grooveyard” is a supremely inviting and enthusiastic romp. It is well-balanced in every way and possesses subtleties which surprise, intrigue, and encourage multiple aural visits.

    By Nicholas F. Mondello for All About Jazz
    August 20, 2023

  2. George W. Harris

    Jazz Weekly
    Creative Music and other forms of Avant Garde

    John La Barbera Big Band: Grooveyard
    by George W. Harris • August 17, 2023 •

    Best known for his work with the big bands of Buddy Rich and
    Buddy DeFranco, John LaBarbera forms a big band that includes
    brothers Joe/dr and Pat/ts-ss along with all star guests including
    Steve Wilson/as-fl, Clay Jenkins/tp, Ryan Keberle/tb, Rufus Reid/b
    and Renee Rosnes/p-key for a hard hitting mix of originals and
    modern jazz covers.
    There’s a soulful title track that has Pat tapping into his inner
    Coltrane on the swaying “Grooveyard” while his soprano sways with
    Rosnes on “For Iola”. A salsa’d ‘Coro Para Thiago” features Juan
    Ruiz and Sam Sadigursky on woody clarinets, while Andy
    Gutauskas’ baritone adds fun to “Sweetness”. The team gets modal on the urgent “Tranesome” with Pat’s
    tenor and Rosnes’ piano digging in deep, and the kinetic “Mandator Blues” features some beautiful alto work
    by the indefatigable “Steve Wilson”. This band of brothers has a punch!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *