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Big Band Caravan

Resonance Big Band / Sammy Nestico-SWR Big Band / Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra / Alf Clausen Jazz Orchestra

By Published: July 10, 2009

Woody Herman
The Great Soloists, 1945-1958
Blue Flame Records
2009

Here's an interesting concept, at least on paper: redeem a number of rarely-heard selections by the swinging Woody Herman

Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
Herds spanning a thirteen-year period (1945-58) and showcase some of the "great soloists" whose artistry enriched Herman's bands and helped make him a household name during the swing era. In theory, a splendid idea; in practice, somewhat less so. The problem lies not with the Herds or their soloists but with the recordings, which were extracted for the most part from air checks or live sessions whose sound quality leaves much to be desired. In some cases the surface noise and imbalances are so troublesome that they stamp out any pleasure that would otherwise have been derived from the listening experience.

To compound the predicament, the review copy does not include the booklet with its "eight pages of liner notes and photos," only a tray that lists the songs and arrangers but not the soloists. Rather penny-wise and pound-foolish, as it is difficult to write a review when blindfolded. It's possible, however, to identify a number of soloists by ear. While space won't allow a track-by-track summary, Herman's leading men probably include saxophonists Stan Getz

Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
, Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
1925 - 1985
sax, tenor
, Al Cohn
Al Cohn
Al Cohn
1925 - 1988
sax, tenor
, Serge Chaloff
Serge Chaloff
Serge Chaloff
b.1923
sax, baritone
, Wardell Gray
Wardell Gray
Wardell Gray
1921 - 1955
sax, tenor
, Richie Kamuca
Richie Kamuca
Richie Kamuca
1930 - 1977
sax, tenor
and (perhaps) Herbie Steward; trombonists Bill Harris
Bill Harris

saxophone
, Earl Swope
Earl Swope
b.1922
and (maybe) Frank Rehak
Frank Rehak
Frank Rehak
1926 - 1987
trombone
or Carl Fontana
Carl Fontana
Carl Fontana
1928 - 2003
trombone
; trumpeters Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
1924 - 1994
trumpet
and Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
1927 - 2001
trumpet
, bassist Chubby Jackson
Chubby Jackson
Chubby Jackson
1918 - 2003
bass, acoustic
, drummer Dave Tough
Dave Tough
Dave Tough
1907 - 1948
drums
and Woody himself on clarinet or alto sax. Piano players are harder to identify.

Turning to the play list, there's almost nothing here that most Herman fans won't have heard, perhaps even hundreds of times. Closer to the point, far more palatable recordings of each selection are available elsewhere, even if not on the same disc. The Great Soloists is for completists only; others are advised to look elsewhere for more agreeable Herman recordings.

Citrus College
Time Was...
Citrus College Jazz
2009

At one of the poolside concerts given during a big-band event sponsored by the L.A. Jazz Institute, the Citrus College Jazz Ensemble was quite impressive. Director Robert Slack was kind enough to send three CDs for review, the earliest of which, Time Was..., subtitled "A Tribute to the Big Bands," was recorded in 1996.

The songs, Slack writes, are among the ones most requested during the ensemble's weekly dinner-dance appearances at the Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont, which began in 1993. They include themes associated with Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
("Sing, Sing, Sing," "A String of Pearls"), Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
1904 - 1944
trombone
("Pennsylvania 6-5000"), Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
("Take the 'A' Train"), Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
("Shiny Stockings"), Judy Garland ("Over the Rainbow") and the Andrews Sisters ("Rum and Coca-Cola"). There are updated arrangements of "Overture / Sing, Sing, Sing," "Over the Rainbow" and Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" by Bill Liston, "'A' Train" by Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico
b.1924
composer/conductor
and "Stardust" by Ted Heath
Ted Heath
b.1900
.

Seven of the nine selections are instrumentals. Dulcet-voiced Melissa Stewart does her best to fill Garland's enormous ruby slippers on "Over the Rainbow" (complete with verse) and teams with Stacy Stilz and Nicole Vinzant on the frothy "Rum and Coca-Cola." Even though these tunes are so dog-eared as to approach redundancy, the ensemble is still impressive, and there are engaging solos along the way by trumpeters Jason Basoco, Gino Munoz and James De La Garza (featured on "Stardust"), alto Dan Silva, pianist Allen Everman, drummer George Bryant ("Sing, Sing, Sing") and an unnamed tenor on "Pennsylvania 6-5000." One blatant drawback lies in the disc's playing time, less than thirty-five minutes, which may have been borderline acceptable in 1996 but no longer. Even so, an earnest and well-played tribute to the big bands of the 1930s, 1940s and beyond.


Tracks and Personnel

Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson

Tracks: Waltzing Is Hip; L'Impossible; Little Girl Blue; Down Here on the Ground; Medley: Hymn to Freedom / John Brown's Body; Sally's Tomato; Tricotism; Greensleeves; Bossa Beguine; West Side Story medley; A Little Jazz Exercise.

Personnel: Marian Petrescu: piano; Willie Murillo, Larry Lunetta, Bob Summers, Larry Hall: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bob Sheppard, Steve Wilkerson, Brian Scanlon, Keith Fiddmont, Tom Peterson: reeds; Andy Martin, Bob McChesney, Wendell Kelly: trombone; Bill Reichenbach: bass trombone; Andreas Oberg: guitar; David Stone: bass; Joe La Barbera: drums; Pierre Paul (6): cabasa; Peter Kent, Giovanna Clayton, Belinda Broughton, Jessica Van Velzen (3, 8): string quartet.

Fun Time

Tracks: Blue Samuel; A New Day; A Pair of Aces; Out of the Night; D'Ann; Fun Time; Celebracion; Struttin' with Some Barbecue; Orchids and Butterflies; Not Really the Blues; The Four of Us (You 'n Me); Rare Moment; Bye Bye Blues; A Song for Sarah; King Porter Stomp.

Personnel: Sammy Nestico: composer, arranger, music director; Felice Civitareale, Frank Wellert, Don Rader, Karl Farrent, Rudi Reindl: trumpet, flugelhorn; Klaus Graf: alto, soprano sax, flute; Steffen Weber: alto sax, flute, piccolo flute, alto flute; Axel Kuhn: tenor sax, flute, alto flute; Andi Maile: tenor sax, clarinet, alto flute; Pierre Paquette: baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet; Marc Godfroid, Ernst Hutter, Ian Cumming: trombone; Georg Maus: bass trombone; Klaus-Peter Schopfer: acoustic, electric guitar; Klaus Wagenleiter: acoustic, electric piano; Decebal Badila: acoustic, electric bass; Guido Joris: drums, percussion. Guest artist—Libor Sima: bassoon.

Where or When

Tracks: My Romance; Where or When; L-O-V-E; Watch What Happens; I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face; Wonderland; I'll Be Around; This Can't Be Love; Avalon; My Foolish Heart; More Than You Know; Teach Me Tonight; My Funny Valentine.

Personnel: Brent Wallarab: co-leader, conductor, arranger, trombone; Mark Buselli: co-leader, trumpet, flugelhorn; Jeff Conrad: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Stricklin: alto, soprano sax, flute; Rob Dixon: tenor sax; Tom Meyer: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Loy Hetrick: trombone; Richard Dole: bass trombone; Celeste Holler-Seraphinoff: horn; Luke Gillespie: piano; Jack Helsley: bass; Bryson Kern, Deno Sanders: drums; Everett Greene, Cynthia Layne: vocals.

Swing Can Really Hang You Up the Most

Tracks: Captain Perfect; Just Feelin' So Blue; Trollin' for Thadpoles; Lookin' for the Back Door; Samba de Elencia; Brief Encounter; Ballad for Gary; A Final Farewell; A Pair of Threes; Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.

Personnel: Alf Clausen: composer, arranger, conductor; Gary Grant, Charley Davis, Warren Luening, Chuck Findley, Bob Summers: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dan Higgins: alto, soprano sax, flute, piccolo; Brian Scanlon: alto, soprano sax, flute; Bob Sheppard, Terry Harrington: tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Bob Efford: baritone sax, bass clarinet, flute; Bob Payne, Andy Martin, Bob McChesney: trombone; Alan Kaplan: bass trombone; Mike Lang: piano; Ken Wild: bass; Bernie Dressel: drums; Lenny Castro (5, 8, 10): Latin percussion.

Silver Threads

Tracks: Take the "A" Train; It Had to Be You; Almost Like Being in Love; Someone to Watch Over Me; Honeysuckle Rose; Shiny Stockings; Li'l Darlin'; Little Brown Jug; It Might as Well Be Spring; Summertime; Georgia.

Personnel: J.B. Scott, Jim Malmgren, Tommy Osborne, Ace Martin, Jim Justice: trumpet; Don Zentz, Nat Michelson, Bill Prince, Rob Chapman, Joe Yorio, Kim Yorio: reeds; Clarence Hines, Marc Dickman, Bill Hazlett, Chris Creswell, Charlie Propper: trombone; Doug Matthews: piano; James Hogan: guitar; Farris Nix: bass; Clyde Connor: drums; Lisa Kelly: vocals.

Swinging Europe 2008

Tracks: Two Circles; Iyosaii; The 14th Voyage; Progression; Sky Lift; Kvapraba; Tanzlied.

Personnel: Niels Klein: composer, arranger, conductor; Christoph Moschberger, Elvind Nordset Lonning, Konstantins Jemeljanovs: trumpet; Tara Davidson, Petr Kalfus: alto sax; Kristian Brink, Jure Pukl: tenor sax; Kasper Wagner: baritone sax; Fidel Fourneyron, Adreas Tschopp, Antonis Andreou: trombone; Bernhard Neumaier: bass trombone; Quentin Liegois: guitar; Alexandru Racovitza: piano; Robert Landfermann: bass; Matt Jacobson: drums.

The Great Soloists 1945-1958

Tracks: Blue Flame; Red Top; The Good Earth; Northwest Passage; Four Brothers; Tiny's Blues; The Goof and I; Yucca; Keeper of the Flame; Not Really the Blues; Stardust; Apple Honey; Sonny Speaks; More Moon; Mother Goose Jumps; Sleepy Serenade; Medley: Moonglow / You've Got Me Crying Again; Autobahn Blues; Moten Swing; I Cried for You; Woodchoppers Ball; Apple Honey; Blue Prelude.

Personnel: Woody Herman: leader, conductor, alto sax, clarinet, vocals. Other personnel unlisted.

Time Was . . .

Tracks: Overture / Sing, Sing, Sing; Pennsylvania 6-5000; Anything Goes; Take the "A" Train; Stardust; Rum and Coca-Cola; A String of Pearls; Over the Rainbow; Shiny Stockings.

Personnel: Robert Slack: director; James De La Garza, Gino Munoz, Jason Basoco, Max Shanter, Mauricio Centeno: trumpet; Dan Silva, Steve Judkins, Jason Powell, Wade Watkins, Derryk Ludwing: woodwinds; Brad Pey, Doug Reid, Mike Ditta, Mike Howden, Tim Younghans: trombone; Allen Everman: piano; Corey McCormick: guitar, banjo; Darren Plies: bass; George Bryant, Ken McGrath (7): drums; Joe Cheek: drums (2), percussion; Johnny Everman: drums (5), percussion; Nathan Campbell, Ronn Kaufmann: French horn; Pavel Farkas, Yarda Kettner, Nicole Bush, Gail Cruz Farkas, Robert Peterson, Zheng Wang: violin; Ray Tischer, Jing Yu-Lou: viola; John Acosta, Kevin Plunkett: cello.



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