A Letter from Los Angeles
Speaking of top-drawer bands, trumpeter Bergeron's ensemble was next onstage in the Ballroom, and as if the band weren't likable enough on its own, Wayne made doubly sure to please by including a number of charts by Tom Kubis, one of the country's the world's foremost big-band composer / arrangers. Among the Kubis originals were "Hospital Blues," "The Rhythm Method" and "Pain for Wayne." Andy Martin's nimble trombone was front and center on a snappy reading of "Caravan." Four more trumpeters Gary Grant, Warren Luening, Rick Baptist, Deb Wagner made their "debuts" with the band whose all-star trombone section was comprised of Martin, Iles, Charlie Loper and bass Bill Reichenbach, with Dan Higgins, Jeff Driskill, Bill Liston, Rusty Higgins and Greg Huckins in the reed section, Alan Pasqua on piano, Henry on bass, Brinker on drums. Again, everyone got his / her money's worth and no one left the Ballroom without a smile.
The Christian Jacob Trio (Henry, bass; Brinker, drums) drew a relatively modest audience but those of us who showed up were treated to an excellent set that included a number of songs from the trio's new album, Styne & Mine (standards by Jule Styne, originals by Jacob) and a surprise visit by Maynard who sat in on one blues. The early-evening concert, "Trumpet Summit," was preceded by the last panel session, "Big Bop Nouveau: The 1990s," moderated by Ken Borgers with panelists Ingram, Jacob, Englebright, Chudoba, Acosta, Bogart, Tull and Hollyday. There's no better way to describe the Trumpet Summit than spectacular, as a baker's dozen of the world's most renowned Jazz trumpeters squared off in a series of scintillating two-horn duels before everyone sculpted sixteen-bar solos on Maynard's shuffling theme, "Blue Birdland." Summers and Rader were showcased on "Just Friends," Mark and Noday on Miles Davis' "Four," Englebright and Chudoba on an unnamed blues, DiSiena and Ingram on "Bye Bye Blackbird," King and Acosta on "My Foolish Heart," Shew and Miyashiro on a scorching rendition of "Perdido." Miyashiro has a device attached to his horn that enables him, with a touch of his finger, to alternate between open and muted a chorus open, another muted, sixteen bars open, sixteen muted, eight open, eight muted, four open, four muted, two open, two muted, single note open, single muted. The audience, needless to say, went absolutely berserk. In fact, every two-horn challenge, to the best of my recollection, received a well-deserved standing ovation. These gentlemen were smoking! At the end of the set, Poston, who used to play some trumpet before pursuing other avenues, was named an "honorary trumpet player" while Maynard was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame, co-sponsored by the New Jersey Jazz Society and the Jazz program at Rutgers University.
Quite naturally, the only thing that could reasonably compete with the Trumpet Summit would be Maynard himself with Big Bop Nouveau, and following the dinner break on they came, introducing the leader with "Blue Birdland" and launching immediately into a swinging rendition of Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing." Maynard's new BBN includes trumpeters Patrick Hession (lead), Ken Edwards and Keith Fiala, trombonist / music director Reggie Watkins, saxophonists Doug Stone and Julio Monterrey, drummer Stockton Helbing and the Korean husband-and-wife team of pianist Ji Young Lee and bassist Eun Chang Choi. "Aren't they a lovely couple?" Maynard remarked. "Mr. and Mrs. . . . whatever." The band's set included "Ain't No Sunshine," "The Girl from Ipanema," "But Beautiful" and a medley of Maynard's greatest hits. At that point I ducked out into the hallway for the last time, as my host, Bob Bragonier, having taken a break to see and hear the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, was on his way to pick me up.