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Big Band Report

On a Desert Island with You . . .

By Published: May 4, 2006
With more than 1,800 big-band CDs in the library, it's becoming almost impossible to pare the number down to an armful small enough to carry to that mythical desert island so often spoken of or dreamed about . . . at least, not without some fudging! One solution would be to take only boxed sets, say a dozen or so, and cram them as tightly as possible into a suitcase or other conveyance. A dozen boxes times three or four albums per box means you could have nearly half a hundred (or more) from which to choose. Maybe not the best answer but one that would at least keep one occupied until the batteries on the portable player died (assuming one didn't have an iPod, else he or she could bring along another hundred or so albums in a shirt or pants pocket — ain't technology wonderful?). But I digress. For those who think boxed sets are a reasonable answer, here are a dozen I'd be more than happy to take with me to that island, listed in alphabetical order so as not to bruise anyone's feelings. Not all are actually boxed, but every album is part of a complete series. I'm sure you can probably think of a few others I may have overlooked (such as Mosaic's recently released Gerald Wilson set).

Army Jazz Ambassadors, Legacy of Benny Carter, Stan Kenton, Hank Levy, Sammy Nestico (4 CDs), no label
The BBC Big Band, Blue, Cool, Mellow, Red Hot Jazz (4 CDs), WMEM
BuJazzO, Vols 1-3 (4 CDs), AMP
Woody Herman, The Complete Capitol Recordings (6 CDs), Mosaic
Stan Kenton, The Complete Holman and Russo Charts (4 CDs), Mosaic
Stan Kenton, The Stan Kenton Story (4 CDs), Proper Box
Stan Kenton, Horns of Plenty, Vols 1-3 (3 CDs), Tantara
National Youth Jazz Orchestra, The Very Best of NYJO (4 CDs), Castle
Gerry Mulligan, The Complete Verve Concert Jazz Band Recordings (4 CDs), Mosaic
Johnny Richards, Mosaic Select (3 CDs), Mosaic
SWR Big Band, 50 Jahre Jazz (3 CDs), Faszination Musik
University of North Texas, North Texas Jazz, 50 Years (4 CDs), UNT Jazz

One dozen boxes, forty-seven albums, neatly packed and ready to play! And if there were room in the suitcase, I'd certainly want to add a few boxes of small-group recordings, to wit:

Clifford Brown, Joy Spring (4 CDs), Proper Box
Lars Gullin, Vols 1-8 (8 CDs), Dragon
Stan Kenton, Presents Bob Cooper, Bill Holman, Frank Rosolino (4 CDs), Mosaic
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet, With Chet Baker (4 CDs), Prestige
Art Pepper, The Hollywood All-Star Sessions (5 CDs), Galaxy
Art Pepper, Mosaic Select (3 CDs), Mosaic
Shorty Rogers, West Coast Jazz (4 CDs), Proper Box
Zoot Sims, 1944-54 Small Group Sessions (4 CDs), Blue Moon

That should be enough to keep me smiling for a while. If pressed, however, I could name more than a few single albums that I'd absolutely have to bring with me (space permitting, of course). Here's a brief (and incomplete) list, also in alphabetical order.

Jerry Ascione Big Band, Beautiful Love (Sea Breeze)
Mike Barone Big Band, Live at Donte's 1968 (VSOP)
Mike Barone Big Band, Live 2005! (Rhubarb)
Bohuslan Big Band, A Perfect Match (Real Records)
Danny D'Imperio, Big Band Bloviation, Vols 1 and 2 (Rompin')
DIVA, TNT (no label)
Fat Chops Big Band, A Nightingale Sang (FC)
Bob Florence, State of the Art (USA)
Terry Gibbs Big Band, One More Time (Contemporary)
Bill Holman Big Band, Live (Jazzed Media)
Bill Holman Big Band, In a Jazz Orbit (VSOP)
Jazzmania Big Band, New Impressions (BMCD)
Kansas City Boulevard Big Band, Stellar (Sea Breeze)
Stan Kenton, Live at Keesler AFB 1968 (Astral Jazz)
Stan Kenton, Odyssey: 1951-68, (Astral Jazz)
Tom Kubis Big Band, Slightly Off the Ground (Sea Breeze)
Erwin Lehn Orchestra, 40 Jahre Jazz (IRS)
Rob McConnell / Boss Brass, Boss Brass and Woods (Impulse!)
Dick Meldonian / Sonny Igoe Band, The Jersey Swing Concerts (Circle)
New Vintage Big Band, Now and Forever (NVBB)
Demetri Pagalidis Big Band, Silverware (no label)
Rob Parton, JazzTech Big Band (Sea Breeze)
Rob Parton, Two Different Days (Sea Breeze)
Rob Parton, Eleventh Hour Live (Sea Breeze)
Pete Petersen Orchestra, Jazz Journey (Chase Music Group)
Bill Potts Big Band, 555 Feet High (Jazz Mark)
Buddy Rich, Big Swing Face (Pacific Jazz)
Sandvika Storband, Lining Up! (SS)
Sandviken Big Band, 30 Years in Business (Four Leaf Clover)
Sandviken Big Band, Right on Time (Sittel)
Carl Saunders, Big Band Bebop (Sea Breeze)
Sydney All-Star Big Band, Doin' Our Thing (La Brava)
THE Orchestra, House of Sounds (Brunswick)
Any (or all) of the five albums by Kenichi Tsunoda's Big Band
University of Cincinnati, Serenade in Blue (Sea Breeze Vista)
Vezinho / Ward Big Band, Smile (DAB Music)
Phil Woods, Unheard Herd (Jazzed Media)

As noted, the list is woefully inadequate (but still numbers almost forty!). And that's basically off the top of my head. My apology to any great bands / albums I may have overlooked (believe me, there are plenty of them out there). I'm sure you must have some others you absolutely couldn't live without. And I'm sure I do too. But the albums listed here should give most big-band enthusiasts a running start. Happy listening!

Summer Happenings
The University of North Texas in Denton has a number of Jazz workshops scheduled this summer, starting June 12-16 with the Lynn Seaton Double Bass Workshop and continuing with the Jazz Trumpet and Trombone Workshop (June 19-24), the Vocal Jazz Workshop (June 25-30) and the Jazz Combo Workshop (July 16-21). Besides Seaton, the faculty includes co-directors trumpeter Mike Steinel and trombonist Tony Baker (Jazz / Trombone), vocalists Paris Rutherford and Rosanna Eckert (Vocal Jazz), and a number of outstanding musicians / educators including Seaton, Steinel, Baker, trumpeter Rodney Booth, saxophonists Will Campbell and John Murphy, guitarists Fred Hamilton and Joe Lee, pianists Dan Haerle and Stefan Karlsson, and drummer Ed Soph (Jazz Combo).

The Port Townsend (WA) Jazz Workshop will be held July 23-30. Music director John Clayton has recruited a blue-chip faculty that includes Benny Green, Kurt Elling, Bill Mays, Jeff Hamilton, Bob Florence, Ingrid Jensen, George Cables, Terell Stafford, Steve Wilson, Jeff Clayton, Gary Smulyan, Jiggs Whigham, Bruce Forman, Kim Richmond, Chuck Deardorf, Gary Hobbs, Jay Thomas, Marc Seales, Bill Ramsay and others. The $575 tuition includes admission to all festival events. Room and board ranges from $195 to $380. The workshop qualifies for 40 continuing education class hours. For information or to register, phone 360-385-3102, ext. 114, or go online to www.centrum.org

For those who make the trip overseas from time to time for the UK's Wigan Jazz Festival, there'll be a new twist this year as Wigan joins forces on July 22 with the nearby Manchester Jazz Festival for a day of Jazz featuring artists from both events. One of the headliners will be pianist Monty Alexander, with a number of other topnotch musicians scheduled to perform. The Wigan festival runs from July 15, 22, the Manchester from July 22-30. For more information about the festivals, go to www.wiganjazz.net or www.manchesterjazz.com

Next month's column will consist of a first-person report from Encores in Big Band Jazz: Artistry in Rhythm Meets Woodchoppers Ball, the Ken Poston / L.A. Jazz Institute spectacular at the Four Points Sheraton - LAX Hotel. Until then, keep swingin'!



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