Granddad Does Dallas
The concert was a fund-raiser for the Rio Rancho Jazz program. As the auditorium was almost filled, the hope is that some cash was raised to help the school and its young musicians move forward. The Rio Rancho Jazz Band 1, directed by Brad Dubbs, opened the program with Mike Tomaro's "Del Corazon, followed by arrangements by George Stone of "Body and Soul and Mark Taylor of "I Remember You. The Basie orchestra, with two Albuquerque nativesdrummer Butch Miles and tenor saxophonist Doug Lawrence in the lineup, roared from the starting gate with Sammy Nestico's "Wind Machine, then slowed the tempo for an arrangement of the tragic folk tune "Frankie & Johnny. Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train was next up, followed by a feature for Lawrence, "Chelsea Bridge, and Ernie Wilkins' "Basie Power before Joyce came on to charm the audience with "Lover Come Back to Me, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life and "All of Me. Miles, flu-ridden but explosive, was showcased on the opening set's crowd-pleasing finale, "The Drum Thing.
After intermission, the orchestra opened with Frank Wess' "Segue in C and Nestico's "The Heat's On, then sandwiched two Benny Carter themes, "Miss Missouri and "Vine Street Rumble, around a feature for tenor Doug Miller, "I.Q., written originally for Basie tenor Ike Quebec. After Joyce sang "Sweet Georgia Brown, "I'll Close My Eyes and "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water, the orchestra wrapped things up with another mercurial chart by Ernie Wilkins, "Basie. Even though the Basie orchestra plays more than two hundred road dates each year, there aren't many touring bands left (the Woody Herman and Glenn Miller orchestras are among the remaining handful), so if any of them comes to your neighborhood, it's worth the time and effort to go and see them. It may not be too long before such an opportunity is lost forever.
Kenton, Herman and More Kenton
Having mentioned the Ken Poston/Los Angeles Jazz Institute event set for the last full week in May, it's worth repeating that this promises to be another outstanding big-band conclave, one that any big-band enthusiast should thoroughly appreciate. For starters, there are the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Terry Gibbs Big Band, and Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau.
While that should be enough to please almost anyone, it's only the tip of the iceberg. Add to that the Four Freshmen, "Big Band Broadway conducted by Lennie Niehaus, bands led by Bill Holman, Al Porcino, Mike Vax and Buddy Charles, the Collegiate Neophonic Jazz Orchestra, "Cuban Carnival: Artistry in Rhythm Meets Artisty in Gillespie, "Blowin' Up a Storm: The Music of Woody Herman's First Herd," concerts by a number of college ensembles, panel discussions and films, and you have a four-day event (May 25-28) that should satisfy even the most hard-to-please connoisseur. And I've heard that Bob Florence is scheduled to give a solo piano recital as well! All of that in only four days, and all at the Four Points Sheraton LAX Hotel. For information or to register, write to the Los Angeles Jazz Institute, P.O. Box 8038, Long Beach, CA 90808-0038, or phone 562-985-7065.
One week after the L.A. spectacular, the 16th Annual Kenton Klan Party (June 4) presents "Cuban Fire Revisited! at the Holiday Inn Ballroom in Monrovia, CA. Besides saxophonist Billy Root, who appeared on Kenton's Cuban Fire album fifty years ago, the musicians scheduled to perform (all Kenton alumni) include Carl Saunders, Kim Richmond, Jack Costanzo, Mike Vax, Bill Trujillo, Steve Huffsteter, Kenny Shroyer, Dave Stone, Roy Wiegand, Keith LaMotte, Mike Pacheco and others. This is the last-ever Kenton Klan gathering, and one that is not to be missed. Cuban Fire will be performed by a 22-member Kenton Kicks Alumni Orchestra exactly as it appeared on the original album, recorded in May 1956. The program will also include Kenton favorites from the '40s to the '70s, as well as a panel discussion on the Cuban Fire sessions. The cost is $50 per person ($70 with lunch), $10 off for students with ID. For information or to register, phone 626-793-1477, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
On a Sadder Note...
Jackie McLean, a bebop pioneer on alto sax who later became an outstanding Jazz educator at the Hartt School in Hartford, Connecticut, died March 31. He was seventy- three years old. As a young man growing up in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, McLean met and became a lifelong friend of the legendary bop pianist Bud Powell. In the late '40s he worked with his friend Sonny Rollins, and while still a teen-ager made his first recordings with trumpeter Miles Davis. Later, he was the alto saxophonist of choice for drummer Art Blakey and bassist Charles Mingus. McLean also turned heads with his own series of innovative recordings on the Blue Note label.