A Two-Trumpet Thunderstorm
Betty and I returned home from a family visit to Illinois on St. Patrick's Day, just in time to see and hear one of the more electrifying jazz concerts presented in Albuquerque in quite some time. A fund-raiser for the Manzano High School jazz program, the concert featured our own Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra and not one but two guest artiststrumpeters Bobby Shew, the AJO's current artistic director, and Shew's longtime friend and former student, Wayne Bergeron, one of the outstanding studio/big band musicians in southern California.
Shew, once a mainstay in bands from Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman and Buddy Rich to Maynard Ferguson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bill Holman and beyond, has toured the world for many years as an in-demand performer and educator while working steadily as a studio musician in Hollywood. The Albuquerque native came home from the Los Angeles area two years ago and now lives in nearby Corrales. Bergeron, who leads his own big band and plays in a number of others, has worked with a who's who of jazz and pop stars from Beyonce, Michael Buble, Christina Aguilera and Bette Midler to Ray Charles, Dianne Reeves, Celine Dion, Diana Krall, Mel Torme, Barry Manilow, Arturo Sandoval, Ronnie Milsap, Keely Smith, Lou Rawls, Joe Cocker, Dave Koz, Tito Puente and many others.
Without being aware of it, filmgoers have no doubt heard and appreciated Bergeron's clean, high-register trumpet work on such film scores as Pirates of the Caribbean, Superman Returns, The Guardian, The Incredibles, Spiderman 2, The Fantastic Four, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Friday Night Lights, Anchorman, Starsky & Hutch, Drumline, Catch Me If You Can, Southpark, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and many others, and on such TV programs as the annual Academy Awards, the Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, the Jerry Lewis telethon, Frank Sinatra's 80th Birthday Special, Jeopardy!, American Idol, Family Guy, Futurama, Buzz Lightyear, Hercules, Hey Arnold, King of the Hill, The Division, Arrested Development and Promised Land, among some of the many he has done.
Manzano High School's Jazz Band One and the AJO served as warm-up acts for the main event. The AJO played two numbers, drummer Dennis Mackrel's "Passion Dance" and Belgian composer/trumpeter Bert Joris's "Kong's Garden" (solos on the former by pianist Chris Ishee, tenor Lee Taylor and trumpeter/Manzano band director Brad Dubbs, on the latter by Ishee and alto Glenn Kostur) before welcoming Shew onstage for three effervescent and crowd-pleasing numbers, the first two ("Magic Box," "For the Time Being") by Joris, the third, "Terrestris," by Bob Washut, longtime head of the University of Northern Iowa's Jazz Studies program.
Bergeron was next up, and he quickly dazzled the audience with seemingly effortless acrobatics on Bill Liston's "Friend Like Me," a Tom Kubis arrangement of the standard "You Go to My Head," and a blues written by Kubis especially for Bergeron's second album, Plays Well with Others, entitled "High Clouds and a Good Chance of Wayne." Pleasing as they were, the best was yet to come, as Shew and Bergeron then teamed up for a trio of spectacular "encores," Gordon Goodwin's "Maynard and Waynard" (which had been performed by Bergeron and Ferguson on Plays Well With Others), Alan Baylock's lovely arrangement of Harold Arlen/E.Y Harburg's "Over the Rainbow," and Kubis' razzle-dazzle "Rhythm Method."
It was, as noted, a marvelous concert, with admirable solos along the way by the AJO's Ishee, Taylor, Kostur, Dubbs, trombonist Ed Ulman and drummer Rick Compton neatly complementing Shew and Bergeron. For a taste of what it was like, those who weren't there may wish to seek out one or both of Bergeron's albums, You Call This a Living? (WAG Records) or Plays Well with Others (Concord Jazz).
The "Stage Door" Swings Even Wider...
Those who may be on the fence when it comes to attending "The Stage Door Swings" May 22-25 at the Sheraton LAX Four Points Hotel should be aware that the sponsoring L.A. Jazz Institute has persuaded three more celebrated singersHelen Merrill, Mark Murphy and Annie Rossto perform at the event, joining Tierney Sutton and Pinky Winters as featured vocalists. Each of them will focus on a specific composerMerrill, Irving Berlin; Murphy, Cole Porter; Ross, George Gershwin; Winters, Jerome Kern; and Sutton, songs from Meredith Willson's The Music Man with the Jack Sheldon Big Band.