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Big Band Report

Jacksonville: Big City, Big Band, Big Plans

By Published: August 5, 2009
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After more than twenty years at the helm, trumpeter Rob Parton

has decided to deactivate his superb Chicago-based JazzTech Big Band. Future plans, he says, may include either bringing back his nonet, Ensemble 9, or putting together a new big band "with different strengths," although how one could be stronger than his current ensemble is a premise that's hard to comprehend. In any event, Parton has made his decision, and the JazzTech Big Band has been terminated, leaving as a part of its legacy seven high-quality CDs—JazzTech Big Band with Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
1927 - 2001
trumpet
, The Count Is In!, What Are We Here For?, Fascinatin' Rhythm, Just One of Those Things, Eleventh Hour Live
and Two Different Days. As Dorothy said to the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, "I think I'll miss you most of all . . ."

Farewells

Bill Finegan

Bill Finegan
Bill Finegan
1917 - 2008
arranger
, a composer / arranger who produced hit songs for Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
1904 - 1944
trombone
and Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
1905 - 1956
trombone
and was co-leader of the groundbreaking Sauter-Finegan Orchestra in the 1950s, died June 3 at his home in Bridgeport, CT. He was 91 years old. Finegan arranged Miller's first big hit, "Little Brown Jug," and virtually everything the Miller band recorded in 1938-39 before becoming a regular arranger for Dorsey. The innovative Sauter-Finegan Orchestra enjoyed great popularity among music-lovers who were charmed by its quirky arrangements and unusual instrumentation. At its peak, the orchestra's twenty-one musicians played a combined seventy-seven instruments. In its arrangement of the "Troika" from Serge Prokofiev's "Lieutenant Kije Suite," Finegan emulated the pounding of horses' hooves by beating out the rhythm on his chest. The orchestra also made extensive use of flutes, chimes, bells and other lesser-heard instruments.

Alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano

Charlie Mariano
Charlie Mariano
1923 - 2009
reeds
, who was a standout in a number of big bands including the Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
Orchestra before settling in Europe in the early 1970s, died June 16 at age 85. Mariano joined Kenton's orchestra in 1953 and stayed for two years before joining drummer Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
1920 - 1984
drums
, with whom he recorded several albums including The Gambit. Mariano returned to his hometown, Boston, in 1958, where he began teaching at the Berklee School of Music while performing in various groups with trumpeter Herb Pomeroy
Herb Pomeroy
Herb Pomeroy
b.1930
trumpet
. It was there that he met and married pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi
b.1929
piano
, forming a quartet that first recorded in 1960. The group (and the marriage) lasted for seven years. Mariano also arranged for Akiyoshi's Japanese All-Star Big Band. Also in the 1960s, Mariano recorded with Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
, most notably on the album The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Mariano's interest in fusion was growing, and he worked with the European free jazz / fusion band Pork Pie Hat with guitarist Philip Catherine
Philip Catherine
Philip Catherine
b.1942
guitar
and pianist Jasper Van't Hof. In 1975, Mariano was invited to join the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble, where he played reeds alongside British saxophonist Barbara Thompson. Also in the band were trumpeters Kenny Wheeler
Kenny Wheeler
Kenny Wheeler
b.1930
trumpet
and Ian Carr
Ian Carr
Ian Carr
1933 - 2009
trumpet
, bassist Eberhard Weber
Eberhard Weber
Eberhard Weber
b.1940
bass
and drummer John Hiseman. From the late 1980s on, Mariano was a widely sought freelance artist, returning to his earlier bop-style of playing for occasional reunions of Kenton alumni and gigs with Al Porcino
Al Porcino
Al Porcino
1925 - 2013
trumpet
's German-based big band.

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