This Is an Orchestra?
There were a few others but my hand was getting tired and my patience was wearing thin. So I sent an e-mail to Audiophile to make sure that what I’d copied was accurate. It was. And furthermore, I was informed, Audiophile doesn’t carry any big-band albums. So what’s the deal? I don’t know. As I said, I wrote to ejazzlines to inquire about the matter but got no response. I am bringing this to your attention as a public service, lest you decide to purchase any big-band CDs sight unseen based on what ejazzlines is advertising. Since checking out Audiophile I’ve visited a few other labels listed at the site to see how accurate the catalog is, and have yet to find any big-band albums that ejazzlines presumably carries. That’s not to say there aren’t any, only that I’ve not yet been able to track any of them down. The “what” in this equation is obvious; the “why” remains a mystery.
The Grammies Strike Out Again
For what it’s worth (nothing, I’d say), neither Gerald Wilson nor Kim Richmond won Grammy Awards at this year’s annual popularity contest. They can take heart, however, from the fact that Norah Jones, who won half a dozen awards (I believe) last year, wasn’t even mentioned this time around. This year’s anointed diva was one Beyoncé, who also won more Grammies than she could carry home without help from her entourage. And she’ll no doubt be replaced on the pedestal next year by someone else, as yet unknown (remember Ricky Martin? Britney Spears?), as the voters go with the flow and bestow their blessings on whoever happens to be getting the most ink at the moment. Let’s face it, fans of real music, the Grammies are a joke, have been for some time now, and one shouldn’t lose any sleep if he or she doesn’t earn one of those bogus statuettes. NARAS may do a lot of good things for music, for all I know, but the narcissistic, back-slapping Grammy celebration isn’t one of them.
The Jazz Community Suffers Another Grievous Loss
As I was gearing up for a Jazz concert here in Albuquerque on February 21 starring the Abq Jazz Orchestra with guest artists Kevin Mahogany and Frank Mantooth, the shocking news arrived that Frank had succumbed to an apparent heart attack on January 30 at his home in Garden City, KS. The prominent composer / arranger / pianist / bandleader was fifty-six years old. A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Frank earned a bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), was a member of the U.S. Air Force Falconaires from 1968-73, then spent seven years in Austria where he earned an advanced degree from the Vienna Hochschule für Musik. Besides arranging and composing for Jazz and symphony orchestras, Mantooth was a well-known educator and author. Among his more than 165 works for combo and Jazz orchestra are five volumes of The Best Chord Changes for the World’s Greatest Standards, published by Hal Leonard. In 1999, Frank received the Florence Crittendon Foundation’s Citizen of the Year award as well as the Wichita Jazz Festival’s annual Homer Osborne award for outstanding contributions to Jazz education. Speaking of the Grammies, as we were earlier, Mantooth’s five albums earned eleven Grammy nominations. He is survived by his wife, Carrie, to whom he was married in 1996 after he completed a one-semester residency at Garden City Community College. The fact that Frank looked 10-20 years younger than his age made the news of his passing that much harder to accept. Frank Mantooth was a wonderful musician, and those who knew him say he was a wonderful friend and companion as well. He’ll be greatly missed, but his music lives on.
And One More Sad Note . . .
The world of Jazz and big bands lost another giant recently when blue-chip arranger Billy May died at age 86. Although he recorded several albums under his own name, Billy was best known as the man who wrote the charts on albums by many of the country’s top bands and singers over the last half-century. Among those albums were two of Frank Sinatra’s best, Come Fly with Me and Come Dance with Me. May also supplied arrangements for Charlie Barnet, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Les Brown, Woody Herman, Si Zentner, Ray Anthony, Glen Gray and a host of other well-known bandleaders. Few arrangers have warranted the prefix “legendary” before their name. Billy May was one who did.