Amazon.com Widgets

Jack's Gone! No He Isn't; Yes He Is; No He Isn't...!

By Published: | 4,738 views
As I sat down to write this month's column, word came that trumpeter Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
b.1931
trumpet
had died. No sooner had I written a few words about that when word came that trumpeter Jack Sheldon had not died. After some back-and-forth on the internet (is he or isn't he?), the last report, it seems, was the true one. According to his wife, Dianne, Jack Sheldon is alive and well, a statement that was confirmed when someone phoned Sheldon's home and Jack himself answered. What is most ludicrous about the mix-up is that no one would find it funnier than Sheldon, whose sense of humor is as legendary as his musicianship. If he really is as well as he is alive, he may use it to his advantage for years to come, producing an unending series of droll one-liners about his premature "demise."

Sheldon has been into comedy for many years, as a sidekick to television talk-show host Merv Griffin, on his own TV series, Run, Buddy, Run, on Sally Field's sitcom The Girl with Something Extra, in films, numerous cartoon voice-overs and as part of his nightclub routine leading a big band or smaller groups in southern California and around the world. A documentary about his life, Trying to Get Good: the Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon, was released in 2008. His ready wit has to some extent overshadowed Sheldon's remarkable talents as a jazz trumpeter, which first drew notice in the mid-1950s when he led his own quartet and quintet on albums on the Pacific Jazz label. He has recorded some twenty albums since then and has played in various groups both large and small including a couple of years in the groundbreaking Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
Orchestra. Sheldon is a five-time recipient of Playboy magazine's International Artist of the Year award. Even better, he remains upright and eligible for another, even though Sheldon's web site says he is on an "extended vacation." Hurry back, Jack. That's the best way to prove to everyone that you're still alive and swingin.'

On the Other Hand...

Reports about the passing of two more prominent jazz musicians were, sad to say, not in error, as the week of June 12-18 was not a good one for trombonists or those who appreciate them. On June 13, trombonist Dave McMurdo, one of Canada's leading musicians and bandleaders, died from a heart attack at his home, only two days after completing an interview with the Toronto newspaper The Spectator about his retirement after thirty-two years as a teacher at Mohawk College. Two days later, trombonist Bruce Otto, who had performed most recently at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute's Big Band Olympics in May, died in his sleep. His passing was confirmed by brothers Stan and Andy Martin
Andy Martin
Andy Martin
b.1960
who went to his apartment to find out why Otto hadn't showed up for a gig that evening with Wayne Bergeron
Wayne Bergeron
Wayne Bergeron

trumpet
's big band. McMurdo was 67, Otto 57.

McMurdo, who was born in London and came with his parents to Vancouver after the second World War, is best remembered as leader of the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra, Canada's nearest rival to Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
1935 - 2010
trombone
's Boss Brass. Before forming the band in the late 1980s, McMurdo had played with the Boss Brass and in Phil Nimmons
Phil Nimmons
Phil Nimmons
b.1923
' Nimmons 'n' Nine Plus Six. The DMJO's original lineup included such world-class musicians as Don Thompson
Don Thompson
Don Thompson
b.1940
multi-instrumentalist
, Mike Malone, Pat La Barbera
Pat La Barbera
Pat La Barbera
b.1944
saxophone
, Chase Sanborn, Reg Schwager
Reg Schwager
Reg Schwager

guitar
, Perry White and others. McMurdo paid tribute to Nimmons with two albums, Portraits and Nimmons 'n' More. At Mohawk, McMurdo taught jazz harmony and arranging, and directed the school's big band and smaller combos.

Otto was a busy presence on the Los Angeles jazz scene, a topnotch studio musician who had performed on recordings by singers Bobby Caldwell, James Darren, Marilyn Harris, Lorraine Feather
Lorraine Feather
Lorraine Feather
b.1948
lyricist
and others, and played in big bands led by Bergeron, Ladd McIntosh, Les Hooper
Les Hooper
b.1940
, Gregg Field
Gregg Field
b.1956
, Ray Anthony
Ray Anthony
Ray Anthony
b.1922
trumpet
, Chris Walden
Chris Walden
Chris Walden

arranger
and more, and was a member of Mike Suter's National Slide Quartet on the album Trombania in 1994.

It's Not Too Late...

It's not too late to start making plans to attend the Los Angeles Jazz Institute's upcoming extravaganza, "Modern Sounds: Celebrating the West Coast Big Band Sound," to be held October 20-23 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel. The event will showcase twenty-eight big bands and large ensembles, most of whom have already signed on. Among those set to perform are Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
b.1924
vibraphone
, Dave Pell
Dave Pell
Dave Pell
b.1935
saxophone
, Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman
b.1927
sax, tenor
, Russell Garcia
Russell Garcia
Russell Garcia
1916 - 2011
composer/conductor
, Joel Kaye, Sue Raney
Sue Raney
Sue Raney
b.1940
vocalist
, Carl Saunders
Carl Saunders
Carl Saunders
b.1942
trumpet
, Duane Tatro, Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
b.1941
trumpet
and Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
b.1925
arranger
. Concerts will celebrate the music of Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
, Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
1924 - 1994
trumpet
, Stan Kenton, Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
, Johnny Richards, Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
1921 - 2008
clarinet
, Marty Paich
Marty Paich
1925 - 1995
composer/conductor
, Pete Rugolo
Pete Rugolo
Pete Rugolo
b.1915
composer/conductor
, Don Fagerquist, Bud Shank
Bud Shank
Bud Shank
1926 - 2009
saxophone
/ Bob Cooper
Bob Cooper
Bob Cooper
1925 - 1993
saxophone
, Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
/ Jack Montrose
Jack Montrose
b.1928
, John Graas
John Graas
John Graas
b.1924
, Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
1930 - 1956
trumpet
, Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
1920 - 1984
drums
and more. All that in addition to films, panel discussions and special presentations. For information, phone 562-200-5477 or go online to lajazzinstitute.org

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

New and Noteworthy

1. The H2 Big Band, You're It! (Jazzed Media)

2. Captain Black Big Band, Untitled (Posi-Tone)

3. George Stone, The Real Deal (Self Published)

4. Stan Kenton / DePaul University, Double Feature (Tantara)

5. Andy Farber Orchestra, This Could Be the Start of Something Big (Black Warrior)

6. Rick Wald 16 / NYC, Play That Thing (Glowbow)

7. Mike Cato Tentet, Nimmons 'n' Nine . . . Now (MCCO Records)

8. Jazz Conceptions Orchestra, Untitled (151 Records)

9. U.S. Air Force Academy Band, Sharing the Freedom (Self Published)

10. Brooks Tegler Big Band, That's It! (Maxngruber Records)

11. Madison Mellophonium Orchestra, Young at Heart (Blue Heron Music)

12. Heart of North Carolina Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Encounters (Self Published)

13. U.S. Navy Commodores, 40th Anniversary Celebration (USN Jazz)

14. Jamie Begian Big Band, Big Fat Grin (Innova)

15. Cal State University—Northridge, CSUN Originals 08 / 09 (No label)

comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Mort Weiss

Mort Weiss

About | Enter

Rotem Sivan

Rotem Sivan

About | Enter

Michael Carvin

Michael Carvin

About | Enter

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.