Louie Bellson: Tasteful Drummer, Sweeter Guy
"We then decided that as much as we loved the Carpenters, we would branch out into other types of music. We began working on jazz standards, having great fun doing some of Diana Krall's and Sammy Davis Jr.'s arrangements. We...added a trumpet player and now do a sweet version of Chet Baker's 'Let's Get Lost.' When I sat back and looked at all the talent in the group, I realized that we had the ability to [play] a broad spectrum of music. [To date] we've performed everything from Nat King Cole to the Beatles to zydeco to Mozart. We're an eclectic ensemble that can perform classical music at a wedding, then turn around and perform jazz or rock at the reception. The group has performed for promotional events, memorial services, benefits, private parties and other events. We have a larger ensemble of twelve and a smaller jazz ensemble, The Entourage Quartet. I am truly blessed to be working with such talented and incredibly spirited people. You can check us out at our website, www.entourageabq.com"
Thanks, Susan, for sharing the captivating story behind Entourage. I'm glad I asked.
On the Horizon...
In May, big-band enthusiasts from across the country (and elsewhere) will gather at the Sheraton LAX Four Points Hotel for the semi-annual concert marathon sponsored by the Los Angeles Jazz Institute. "A Swingin' Affair," set for May 21-24, will feature twenty big bands plus the usual films and panel discussions that help make these get-togethers so entertaining. Among the bands are those led by Les Hooper, John Altman, Frank Capp, Ann Patterson, Chris Walden, Roger Neumann, Gordon Goodwin, Bill Watrous, Carl Saunders, Emil Richards, Med Flory, Alf Clausen, Tom Kubis and Ron Jones, plus a tribute to the late Bob Florence by Florence's Limited Edition ensemble. Even though the time is growing short, you may still try to register by calling 562-985-7065 or going online to www.lajazzinstitute.org
One week earlier, from May 13-16, composer / arranger / saxophonist Kim Richmond, always one of the mainstays at the LAJI big-band events, will host the annual Northwoods Jazz Camp / Jazz Party at the Holiday Acres Resort in Rhinelander, WI, continuing the big-band format that was started last year.
A faculty of jazz professionals will teach instrumental and vocal master classes, improvisation, Jazz listening, combo and big-band playing, with combo concerts each evening (open to the public) wherein advanced students will sit in with the pros. On the final night, the big band will perform. A major "perk" will be students hanging with the faculty at meals, story sessions and jam sessions. Afternoons are reserved for such activities as boating, fishing, swimming, water skiing, hiking, tennis, cookouts, volleyball and shuffleboard (with golf, horseback riding and a campground nearby).
Besides Richmond, faculty members include trumpeter Clay Jenkins, trombonist Scott Whitfield, guitarist Tom Hynes, guitarist Lee Tomboulian, bassist Jeff Campbell, drummer Tim Davis and vocalist Betty Tomboulian. Tuition (meals included) is $795 for students, single occupancy room, $665 for students, double occupancy. No prior experience is required, and spouses are welcome free of charge except for meals. The camp can accommodate a maximum of 25-30 students ages 21 or older.
Rhinelander is three hours north of Madison, four hours east of Minneapolis and an hour north of Wausau. Holiday Acres is a year-round vacation resort on the shores of Lake Thompson, four miles from Rhinelander. For questions or information, e-mail JazzKim@kimrichmond.com
In February, Marilyn Bergman, president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, announced the twenty-six winners of the 2009 ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Awards, a program established in 2002 to encourage talented young jazz composers from across the U.S. The recipients, ages 15-29, are chosen through a juried national competition. This year's composer / judges were John Fedchock, Jay Leonhart and Phil Markowitz. The competition has been sponsored for the past four years by the Gibson Foundation, the philanthropic division of Gibson Guitar Corp. One of the winners, twenty-nine-year-old Rob Mosher of Brooklyn, recently released his debut big-band album, The Tortoise.
And that's it for now. Until next time, keep swingin'! . . .
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