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After 15 Years, a "Caravan" Ends Its Journey

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For nearly fifteen years now, I've been writing two monthly columns here at All About Jazz: this one (Big Band Report) and Big Band Caravan. That is about to change. Starting next month, the two will be pared down to one inclusive column using as its title Big Band Report. So rather than searching the AAJ website each month for two columns, you'll need only look for one, which will encompass both big-band news and reviews. The change is being made for several reasons: convenience (it's easier to find and read one column instead of two); age (I'm seventy-seven and feeling a need to reduce the workload); time (closely related to reason two, as I'd like more of it to do other things); and last but not least, a perceptible decline in the number of new big-band CDs, which makes writing a regular column of reviews such as Big Band Caravan rather dicey, as I've been having to search far and wide for new albums instead of waiting for them to come to me. Combining the columns lessens the need to produce at least five reviews each month, as has been the norm with Caravan. While five would remain the goal, some months may engender four reviews or less depending on how many new CDs have been released. Granted, the change from two columns to one may take some getting used to, but once you've mastered the art of tracking down only one column instead of two, I hope you'll agree that the change is appropriate and worth making.

In Other News...

Now is the time to start planning ahead, as Los Angeles becomes a magnet for big-band talent next May 23-26 when the L.A. Jazz Institute hosts a "Big Band Spectacular" at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel. Recognize any of these names—Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman
b.1927
sax, tenor
, Gordon Goodwin
Gordon Goodwin
Gordon Goodwin
b.1955
composer/conductor
, Tom Kubis, Bob Curnow, Roger Neumann
Roger Neumann
Roger Neumann
b.1941
sax, tenor
, Kim Richmond
Kim Richmond
Kim Richmond

saxophone
, Mike Barone
Mike Barone
b.1936
, Steve Huffsteter? They'll all be there, along with a number of others who've yet to be announced. This in addition to the usual films, panel discussions and special events. For information, phone 562-200-5477 or go online to www.lajazzinstitute.org

"Dream Band" or Nightmare?

People have asked me from time to time about a "dream band," what musicians I'd choose to comprise the brass, reed and rhythm sections. The short answer is, that's impossible. There have simply been too many outstanding musicians in the history of big-band jazz to narrow the field to less than twenty; even after eliminating the names of those who were best known in other contexts (that is, as soloists or with smaller groups), the sheer number of superlative sidemen (and a handful of women) is staggering. The one issue I could resolve without any ambivalence is that of the drum chair, as to me, no one has ever surpassed Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
, but even there it's a matter of opinion, nothing more, as the competition is fierce with the likes of Louie Bellson
Louie Bellson
Louie Bellson
1924 - 2009
drums
, Chick Webb
Chick Webb
Chick Webb
1905 - 1939
drums
, Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa
1909 - 1973
drums
Big Sid Catlett, Jo Jones
Jo Jones
Jo Jones
1911 - 1985
drums
, Sam Woodyard
Sam Woodyard
Sam Woodyard
1925 - 1988
drums
, Dave Tough
Dave Tough
Dave Tough
1907 - 1948
drums
, Sonny Payne
Sonny Payne
b.1926
, Tiny Kahn, Stan Levey
Stan Levey
Stan Levey
1925 - 2005
drums
, Kenny Clarke
Kenny Clarke
Kenny Clarke
1914 - 1985
drums
, Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
1920 - 1984
drums
, Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
1929 - 1990
drums
, Frank Capp
Frank Capp
Frank Capp
b.1931
drums
, Butch Miles
Butch Miles
Butch Miles
b.1944
drums
, Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
b.1953
drums
and others making impressive cases. The other chairs are literally up for grabs. Lead trumpet? Take your pick from among hundreds, if not thousands, of high-flying foremen who have presided over big bands through the years. Tenor sax? Well, my main man has always been the incomparable Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
1925 - 1985
sax, tenor
(a natural-born swinger who could sight-read almost any book), but I wouldn't go so far as to say he's one of the two best tenors who ever graced a big band. There have been too many others. And so it goes with every chair. Choosing a "dream band," as it turns out, is more akin to a nightmare, one that I will happily bequeath to others.

And that's it for now. Until next time, keep swingin...'!

New and Noteworthy

1. Michael Treni Big Band, Boy's Night Out (Bell Production Co.)
2. Tall & Small (Pete Christlieb / Linda Small), High on You (Bosco Records)
3. Kris Berg / Metroplexity Big Band, This Time / Last Year (MAMA Records)
4. Budman / Levy Orchestra, From There to Here (OA2 Records)
5. Frank D'Rone, Double Exposure (Whaling City Sound)
6. Steve Taylor Big Band Explosion, Live in London (i2i Music)
7. Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra, Live at Dizzy's
8. Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, Rampage! (Arbors Jazz)
9. Howard University Jazz Ensemble, Ode to Life (HUJE Jazz)
10. DiMartino / Osland Jazz Orchestra, Quotient (Sea Breeze Jazz)
11. Millennium Jazz Orchestra, Pretty Pumps (MJO)
12. University of Kentucky, Go! The Music of Bob Mintzer (Mark Records)
13. Beats & Pieces, Big Ideas (Efpi Records)
14. Empire Jazz Orchestra, Accentuate the Positive (EJO)
15. Eastern Illinois University, Three O'Clock Downbeat (Self Published)

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