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Big Band Report

Strike Up the (Unsung) Bands

By Published: December 5, 2009
The big band era is known for producing a number of enormously successful ensembles whose leaders were household names: Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
, Jimmie Lunceford
Jimmie Lunceford
Jimmie Lunceford
1902 - 1947
composer/conductor
, Fletcher Henderson
Fletcher Henderson
Fletcher Henderson
1897 - 1952
arranger
, then on through Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
Glenn Miller
1904 - 1944
trombone
, Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
, the brothers Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
1904 - 1957
composer/conductor
and Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
Tommy Dorsey
1905 - 1956
trombone
, Charlie Barnet
Charlie Barnet
Charlie Barnet
1913 - 1991
composer/conductor
, Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw
1910 - 2004
clarinet
, Harry James
Harry James
Harry James
b.1916
trumpet
, Cab Calloway
Cab Calloway
Cab Calloway
1907 - 1994
composer/conductor
, Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
1908 - 2002
vibraphone
, Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
and, later, Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
, Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
and Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
, among others. As everyone knows, big bands have by and large faded into the sunset, and with them the names that once guaranteed their popularity and good fortune.

Even so, thanks in part to the many university jazz studies programs and armed services groups, there are perhaps as many or more big bands active today than ever before, including that long-ago epoch when big bands were at or near the top of the musical ladder. What they no longer have is name recognition—save for the ghost bands such as Basie, Miller, Dorsey, Shaw and Herman who continue to plug away, carrying the torch for big-band jazz as far and as wide as the economic climate allows—or an audience, as dancing and/or listening to their music has become passe in this age of rock, heavy metal, rap, hip hop and assorted other fads du jour.

Without a name or audience, the question becomes: what's left? And the answer, thank goodness, is a large number of "unknown" big bands whose music is every bit as impressive and rewarding as that of their illustrious and universally celebrated predecessors. To hear them is to believe. With that in mind, I'd like to take this year-end opportunity to introduce you to twenty-two such bands, personal favorites among a long list of seasoned ensembles whose spirit and artistry prove that big-band jazz remains very much alive.

1. Rob Parton

's JazzTech Big Band. To me, one of the finest bands the Chicago area has ever produced, and that covers a lot of territory. Not only is Parton a marvelous trumpeter, both lead and jazz, but he has always surrounded himself with the best musicians Chicago has to offer—stalwarts such as trumpeters Scott Wagstaff and Art Davis
Art Davis
Art Davis
1934 - 2007
bass, acoustic
, tenor Mark Colby
Mark Colby
Mark Colby

saxophone
, lead alto Bob Frankich, drummer Bob Rummage, trombonist Tom Garling, bass trombonist/arranger Tom Matta, pianist Don Stille and so many more. Sadly, Rob has dispersed the group after more than twenty years at the helm but has left a recorded legacy that would be hard to surpass. The band recorded seven CDs, all of which are superb, especially the two most recent—Two Different Days and Eleventh Hour Live. The others are Just One of Those Things, Fascinatin' Rhythm, What Are We Here For, The Count Is In! and JazzTech Big Band, the last with guest trumpeter Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
1927 - 2001
trumpet
. All save Fascinatin' Rhythm are on Sea Breeze Records. The JazzTech Big Band will be sorely missed.

2. The Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward Big Band. Comprised for the most part of musicians working the casinos in the Atlantic City area, NJ, the V-WBB is not only well-built from stem to stern but boasts one of the most electrifying trumpet sections I've heard in any band anywhere. Ward is simply a monstrous lead trumpeter, and split lead Joe Scannella is only a short step behind. Vezinho, besides playing alto sax, is a terrific arranger, and the band's three CDs are awesome, starting with Smile and including Blue Haired Mama and With Friends Like These.... The V-WBB has a number of captivating soloists, especially baritone saxophonist Stan Weiss who brings to mind the late great Jack Nimitz

Jack Nimitz
Jack Nimitz
1930 - 2009
sax, baritone
. A wonderful ensemble.

3. The Mike Barone

Mike Barone
b.1936
Big Band. A no-brainer, thanks to Barone's superlative charts and a supporting cast made up of some of Southern California's most talented and sought-after sidemen. Besides writing brilliantly, Barone always has a surprise or two for the listener, delving deeply into the pages of the Great American Songbook to unearth and renovate such seldom-heard gems as "My Melancholy Baby," "Has Anybody Seen My Gal," "I Won't Dance," "Darktown Strutters Ball," "Yes Sir, That's My Baby," "Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey" and "Avalon." Not to mention the title selection from the band's most recent album, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's skittish "Flight of the Bumblebee." Barone's band has recorded half a dozen CDs including two—Live at Donte's 1968 and Class of '68—taped during live sessions at Donte's in Hollywood those many years ago. The more recent albums are Bumblebee, Live 2005!, Metropole and By Request, and each one is a killer.

4. The SWR Big Band. The first band on the list from overseas is also one of the most persuasive and prolific, having recorded more than 15 albums with guest artists from the U.S. as well as others on its own. The band is more than 60 years old, having been organized shortly after World War II as the Erwin Lehn

Erwin Lehn
b.1919
Big Band. Lehn remained its director for 40 years, after which Lehn's band became the SWR (which means something like "Southwest Radio," reflecting its sponsorship). Since then, the band has produced a wealth of topnotch concert recordings in its Jazz Matinee series with guests Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi
b.1929
piano
, Don Menza
Don Menza
Don Menza
b.1936
saxophone
, Frank Foster
Frank Foster
Frank Foster
1928 - 2011
saxophone
, Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico
b.1924
composer/conductor
, Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
1935 - 2010
trombone
, Bob Florence
Bob Florence
Bob Florence
1932 - 2008
band/orchestra
, Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman
b.1927
band/orchestra
, Slide Hampton
Slide Hampton
Slide Hampton
b.1932
trombone
, Phil Woods
Phil Woods
Phil Woods
b.1931
sax, alto
, Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
Bob Mintzer
b.1953
saxophone
, Clark Terry
Clark Terry
Clark Terry
b.1920
trumpet
and others, while the earlier band released a wonderful two-disc set, 40 Jahre Jazz, celebrating Lehn's tenure as its leader. While Lehn's groundbreaking band was clearly in a class by itself, the present day SWR Big Band is even more proficient, which is saying a lot.

5. The Kenichi Tsunoda Big Band. In Japan, the gold standard among a number of world-class bands. Not only is trombonist Tsunoda a superlative arranger, he has enlisted the cream of Tokyo's sidemen to shape an ensemble that has no apparent weaknesses, at least on record. There are half a dozen first-class CDs from which to choose, two of which—Savanna, Big Swing—have been reissued by Sea Breeze Records. The others are Shuffling Shuffle, For J.G., Jumping Big and Big Band Stage. While all the albums are good, the earlier three—Shuffle, Savanna, Big Swing—are the cream of the crop.

6. The Tom Kubis

Big Band. Anyone who has played or heard Kubis' charts knows what a wizard he is. A number of his arrangements have been performed by ensembles all over the world, from professional to student to amateur, and for good reason. Kubis hasn't recorded often, but his first CD—Slightly Off the Ground—is a masterpiece, one that no respectable desert island should be without. The album is a series of highlights, from "Purple Porpoise Parkway" (a.k.a. "Green Dolphin Street) and "Exactly Like This" to "Samba Dees Godda Do It," "When You're Smiling" and "Alexander's Big Time Band," with terrific guest shots by trombonist Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous
b.1939
trombone
, saxophonist Matt Catingub
Matt Catingub
b.1961
and trumpeter / all round funnyman Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
b.1931
trumpet
who sharply lampoons the film Casablanca on "Play It Again, Sam." Two of Kubis' CDs—Fast Cars and Fascinating Women, Keep Swingin'—are devoted to the music of Steve Allen
Steve Allen
1921 - 2000
composer/conductor
; another, At Last, includes guest appearances by Sheldon, vocalist Leslie Lewis and trombonist Conrad Janis
Conrad Janis
b.1928
. Kubis has also recorded three Christmas albums—You Just Can't Have Enough Christmas!, It's Not Just for Christmas Anymore! and A Jazz Musician's Christmas, which is by and large a fusion of the first two.

7. The Gary Urwin

Gary Urwin
Gary Urwin

band/orchestra
Big Band. Urwin, a lawyer by day and big band partisan by night, convenes his all-star ensemble only to record. To date that has happened on three occasions (a fourth album is in the planning stages), each time with marvelous results. The CDs, moving backward in chronological order, are Kindred Spirits, Living in the Moment and Perspectives. With heavy hitters like trumpeters Wayne Bergeron
Wayne Bergeron
Wayne Bergeron

trumpet
, Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
b.1941
trumpet
and Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom
Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom
b.1951
organ, Hammond B3
, trombonists Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous
b.1939
trombone
, Andy Martin
Andy Martin
Andy Martin
b.1960
, Charlie Loper and Alex Iles, tenor Pete Christlieb
Pete Christlieb
Pete Christlieb
b.1945
saxophone
, baritone Bob Efford
Bob Efford
b.1928
, altos Rusty Higgins and Kim Richmond
Kim Richmond
Kim Richmond

saxophone
, pianists Christian Jacob and Brian O'Rourke, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Ralph Razze in the starting lineup, one may rest assured that Urwin's squad has enough firepower to blow almost any competitors out of the ballpark.

8. The Brussels Jazz Orchestra. The BJO has a number of formidable weapons, chief among them leader/alto saxophonist Frank Vaganee and composer/arranger/trumpeter Bert Joris. Even though not well-known in the States, the orchestra is without question one of Europe's finest ensembles. The BJO has recorded often, and I have nine of its CDs in the library including a couple of two-disc sets—The Music of Bert Joris and The Music of Michel Herr

Michel Herr
Michel Herr
b.1949
composer/conductor
. Each is a gem, as are the others: Radio 3, Naked in the Cosmos (the music of Kenny Werner
Kenny Werner
Kenny Werner
b.1951
piano
), The September Sessions, Dangerous Liaison (compositions by Joris with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra), Meeting Colours (featuring guitarist Philip Catherine
Philip Catherine
Philip Catherine
b.1942
guitar
), Countermove (compositions and arrangements by Vaganee) and Ten Years Ago (showcasing the marvelous accordionist Richard Galliano
Richard Galliano
Richard Galliano
b.1950
accordion
).

9. No Name Horses. Another straight-ahead, swinging, American-style big band from Tokyo, this one led by the splendid pianist Makoto Ozone

Makoto Ozone
Makoto Ozone
b.1961
piano
, featuring the marvelous lead trumpeter/soloist Eric Miyashiro and boasting a dynamic supporting cast. Only two CDs to date—No Name Horses, No Name Horses II—but each one's a corker. Needless to say, we hope these "horses" haven't run their last race.

10. The Ian Pearce Big Band. Away to Great Britain for perhaps one of the least-known but no less persuasive among our 20 bands. Pearce, who plays piano, composes and arranges, has recruited heavily from the unrivaled National Youth Jazz Orchestra, never a bad idea, and the ranks are peppered with names recognizable as NYJO alumni—Andy Cuss, Mark Armstrong, Martin Shaw

Martin Shaw
Martin Shaw
b.1966
, Winston Rollins, Adrian Hallowell, Sammy Mayne, Adrian Revell, Ben Castle, Chris Dagley, Andy Wood, Henry Collins, Martin Gladdish, Jamie Talbot and others I'm sure I've overlooked. Even though the band has been a working unit for almost three decades, I've heard only three of its CDs (there may or may not be others). The first, Retrospection, is well above average. The two most recent, Prelude to the Blues and Dedication, are superior, readily assuring the IPBB's inclusion on the list.

11. The Brian Pastor

Brian Pastor
Brian Pastor

trombone
Big Band. We go to Philadelphia for one of the newer bands on the roster, formed in 1994 by trombonist Pastor. The band has recorded only one CD, Common Men, but it was No. 1 on my top ten list in 2006, and for good reason. The band is flat-out terrific, as are the charts by Pastor, Andrew Neu
Andrew Neu
b.1969
saxophone
, Jeff Darrohn
Jeff Darrohn
Jeff Darrohn
b.1960
saxophone
, Paul Morris, Kaj Hansen and Chuck Gottesman
Chuck Gottesman
Chuck Gottesman
b.1971
trumpet
Pastor's arrangement of the Gershwin brothers' "A Foggy Day" is a classic, and the others don't lag far behind. A solid No. 11 choice.

12. The Boulevard Big Band. Even though the Boulevard Big Band has dropped the words "Kansas City" from its name, it remains one of the leading ensembles in America's heartland. Ably led by trumpeter Mike McGraw, the BBB has recorded at least four CDs, the first two with "Kansas City" preceding "Boulevard." The most recent, Live at Harlings Upstairs, is enhanced by the presence of West Coast tenor titan Pete Christlieb

Pete Christlieb
Pete Christlieb
b.1945
saxophone
. Preceding it are Take Only for Pain, Stellar (featuring alto/tenor saxophonist Eric Marienthal
Eric Marienthal
Eric Marienthal
b.1957
saxophone
) and an untitled debut from 1994.

13. Junko Moriya Orchestra. Junko Moriya, a younger version of composer/arranger/pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi, has recorded two big-band CDs to date: Shifting Images and Points of Departure, each of which places her in the front ranks of contemporary leaders, regardless of what country one is considering. There's one "ringer" on Images, lead trumpeter Mike Ponella, who is replaced on Departure by Eric Miyashiro. No matter, as the band is clicking on all cylinders on both albums. A strong choice for the No. 13 spot.

14. The Jack Cortner

Jack Cortner

arranger
Big Band. Arranger Jack Cortner assembled his New York City-based big band in 2005 for recording purposes only, and has done so twice: in 2006 (Fast Track) and 2009 (Sound Check). The original intent, he says, was to release only one album, but he was "talked into" recording a second time by members of the band. We hope he can be persuaded to return to the studio again, as Fast Track and Sound Check are exemplary, thanks in part to the imposing presence of Cortner's longtime friend, trumpeter Marvin Stamm
Marvin Stamm
Marvin Stamm
b.1939
trumpet
, who is showcased throughout (on Sound Check, Stamm solos on every number). Add pianist Bill Mays
Bill Mays
Bill Mays
b.1944
piano
to the mix and you've got a sure-fire winner.

15. Kluvers Big Band. Denmark, heretofore best known abroad for Shakespeare's Hamlet and other melancholy themes, has a sunny side as well, as illustrated by Jens Kluver's sharp and high-spirited ensemble. Fortunately, Kluver has recorded often, and we have half a dozen of the band's notable albums in the library. They include Tribute to Duke, The Heat's On, Silver Street, Other People Other Plans, Reflections and Hot House. As Kluver enjoys hosting guest artists, Duke features American alto saxophonist Vincent Herring

Vincent Herring
Vincent Herring
b.1964
saxophone
, The Heat's On tenor saxophonist Jesper Thilo
Jesper Thilo
Jesper Thilo
b.1941
and composer/violinist Finn Ziegler, Silver Street tenor Bob Rockwell and organist Kjeld Lauritsen, Other People composer/tenor saxophonist Hans Ulrik, Reflections composer/arranger/pianist Matt Harris, Hot House tenor Thilo and American drummer Dennis Mackrel.

16. Phil Kelly

Phil Kelly
Phil Kelly
b.1937
composer/conductor
and the Northwest Prevailing Winds. Kelly actually has two bands and three CDS to date, the first and last by the Prevailing Winds, the second by his southern California-based Southwest Santa Ana Winds. In either case, the albums are superb: Convergence Zone and Ballet of the Bouncing Beagles from the north, My Museum from the south. When Kelly's ensemble needs more gas in the tank, he knows who to showcase: tenor Pete Christlieb
Pete Christlieb
Pete Christlieb
b.1945
saxophone
, trombonist Andy Martin
Andy Martin
Andy Martin
b.1960
, baritonesGary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
b.1956
sax, baritone
and Bill Ramsay, pianist Pat Coil and trumpeter Jay Thomas
Jay Thomas
Jay Thomas
b.1949
on Convergence Zone, Christlieb, Martin, Ramsay, Thomas, pianist Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
b.1956
piano
, alto Lanny Morgan
Lanny Morgan
Lanny Morgan
b.1934
, trumpeter Bob Summers
Bob Summers
b.1944
and guitarist Grant Geissman
Grant Geissman
Grant Geissman
b.1953
guitar
on Museum, Christlieb, Thomas, Ramsay, Coil, Geissman, alto Jerry Dodgion
Jerry Dodgion
Jerry Dodgion
b.1932
and drummer Gary Hobbs on Bouncing Beagles. They're excellent, but it is Kelly's high-octane charts that drive the engine forward.

17. Gordon Goodwin

Gordon Goodwin
Gordon Goodwin
b.1955
composer/conductor
's Big Phat Band. When it comes to appraising Goodwin's gregarious ensemble, opinions are sharply divided. Some believe his fun-loving approach is charming, while others assert that his emphasis on showmanship is excessive. Obviously, I'm in the former camp, which means that Goodwin's four likable CDs to date are more than enough to earn the BPB's inclusion on the list. They are (in chronological order, first to most recent) Swingin' for the Fences, XXL, The Phat Pack and Act Your Age. Guest artists have included clarinetist Eddie Daniels
Eddie Daniels
Eddie Daniels
b.1941
clarinet
, saxophonists Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
Michael Brecker
1949 - 2007
sax, tenor
and David Sanborn
David Sanborn
David Sanborn
b.1945
saxophone
, singers Johnny Mathis
Johnny Mathis
Johnny Mathis
b.1935
vocalist
, Patti Austin
Patti Austin
Patti Austin
b.1948
vocalist
and Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
b.1956
vocalist
, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval
b.1949
trumpet
, pianist Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
and the vocal group Take 6.

18. The Rodger Fox

Rodger Fox
b.1953
trombone
Big Band. Yes, big-band jazz is alive in New Zealand, and that country's leading ensemble is overseen by ace trombonist Rodger Fox. The band is so unknown in the States that during an appearance some years ago at an IAJE convention, Fox and Co. played to an almost empty room. A pity, as the band was cookin,' as it is on a number of handsome CDs starting with Good News and including Xtra Juicy, Ain't That the Truth, A Rare Connection, No Exit and Warriors. American trumpeter Jon Papenbrook is the guest on Truth and No Exit, pianist Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
b.1956
piano
on Connection and Warriors.

19. Danny DImperio

's Big Band Bloviation. Not only is drummer Danny D'Imperio's band obscure, its two CDs to date are almost impossible to find—but for those who don't give up easily, well worth the search. This truly is an all-star band, from the trumpet section (Dave Stahl
Dave Stahl
b.1949
, Greg Gisbert, Joe Magnarelli
Joe Magnarelli
Joe Magnarelli
b.1960
trumpet
, Dennis Dotson
Dennis Dotson
b.1946
) to the woodwinds (Eric Alexander
Eric Alexander
Eric Alexander
b.1968
sax, tenor
, Gary Pribek, Lew Tabackin
Lew Tabackin
Lew Tabackin
b.1940
sax, tenor
, Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
Gary Smulyan
b.1956
sax, baritone
), trombones (John Mosca, Bruce Eidem) and rhythm (D'Imperio, pianists Barry Harris
Barry Harris
Barry Harris
b.1929
piano
and Sacha Perry, guitarist Peter Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
b.1967
guitar
). The CDs are Big Band Bloviation, Volumes 1 and 2. Hear them if you can. There are engaging tunes ("Sweet Georgia Upside Down," "Fox Hunt," "Ceora," "Yardbird Suite," "Danny Boy," "Good Bait," "Del Sasser," "Daahoud" and others), superb charts, and best of all, sizzling solos by Alexander, Harris, Pribek, Bernstein, Smulyan, Tabackin, Perry and all the trumpets (especially on the mercurial "Fox Hunt" and Willie Maiden
Willie Maiden
b.1928
's "Three More Foxes").

20. The Pete Cater Big Band. Pete Cater is one of Great Britain's finest big band drummers, and his excellent ensemble—also well-stocked with ex-NYJO personnel—has recorded three topnotch albums: Upswing!, Playing with Fire and The Right Time. Unsung yet easily proficient enough to earn a spot on anyone's list.

21. Sandviken Big Band. We can't overlook Sweden, home to a number of world class ensembles. One of the best is the Sandviken Big Band, which has recorded with a pair of marvelous trumpeters, Bobby Shew

Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
b.1941
trumpet
and Lasse Lindgren, as well as with renowned clarinetist Antti Sarpila
Antti Sarpila
b.1964
, among others. The four CDs I have are Big Band Wulf, Twenty-Five Years Later (with Sarpila), Right on Time (Lindgren) and 30 Years in Business (featuring Shew and organist Kjell Ohman). While all are good, Business is the pick of the litter.

22. The Dave McMurdo

Jazz Orchestra. Now that Rob McConnell's peerless Boss Brass are no longer active, fellow valve trombonist Dave McMurdo heads Canada's most seasoned and steady ensemble. The DMJO has recorded several multiple-disc sets, most recently the double-CD Nimmons 'n' More in 2007. Two years earlier, the band released a three-CD set, Portraits, also devoted to the music of composer/arranger/clarinetist Phil Nimmons
Phil Nimmons
Phil Nimmons
b.1923
. Two other two-CD sets (Just for Now, Fire & Song complement a trio of singles, The Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra, Live at the Montreal Bistro and Different Paths. The personnel (including several Boss Brass members or alumni) is topflight, the music enticing, and, come to think of it, the DMJO probably deserves a higher ranking than No. 20. Maybe next time...

And there you have it, twenty big bands that may be even more unseen and undervalued than most bands these days but are nonetheless worthy of notice and consideration. As these are all professional groups, we are appending as a "bonus" the names of fifteen impressive university/youth ensembles that deserve no less than honorable mention.

1. National Youth Jazz Orchestra, UK (I have twenty CDs by this consistently amazing ensemble whose upper age limit is 25); 2. DePaul University, Chicago; 3. McGill University, Montreal; 4. University of North Texas, Denton (pick a band, any band); 5. University of Cincinnati; 6. University of Northern Iowa; 7. Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra, UK; 8. University of North Florida, Jacksonville; 9. Mt. Hood (OR) Jazz Ensemble; 10. Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra, UK; 11. Texas Christian University; 12. University of Northern Colorado; 13. University of Wisconsin/Eau Claire; 14. Howard University, Washington, DC; 15. University of Toronto. One can't go wrong with any of them.

Bobby Shew Honored

On Saturday, November 21, 2009 I was at the KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque to witness trumpeter Bobby Shew's induction into the New Mexico Music Hall of Fame. Until a few weeks before that, when I received an invitation from Shew, I had no idea that such an organization existed—nor did he. Apparently, the Hall, one of New Mexico's best-kept secrets, has established a foundation and museum in nearby Rio Rancho. This was the seventh annual event, and Shew, a native of Albuquerque, was one of four inductees: three individuals and one group. The others were pop or Latin artists.

Bobby Shew was something of a child prodigy, having started playing guitar at age eight before switching to the trumpet two years later. By age 13 he was playing dances and other events around town, and by 15 was leading his own group, playing as many as six nights a week while in high school. After graduation, Shew spent three years playing lead and jazz trumpet for the NORAD multi-service band, then joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra where he played alongside trumpet legend Charlie Shavers

Charlie Shavers
Charlie Shavers
1920 - 1971
trumpet
. He later accepted an offer to join Woody Herman = 7596's Herd, which led to gigs with singer Della Reese
Della Reese
b.1932
and drummer Buddy Rich's outstanding late 1960s band. Afterward, Shew moved to Las Vegas, backing headline performers in nightclubs, then to Los Angeles where he played with a host of renowned artists including Art Pepper
Art Pepper
Art Pepper
1925 - 1982
sax, alto
, Bud Shank
Bud Shank
Bud Shank
1926 - 2009
saxophone
and Horace Silver
Horace Silver
Horace Silver
b.1928
piano
, and in big bands led by Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman
b.1927
band/orchestra
, Louie Bellson
Louie Bellson
Louie Bellson
1924 - 2009
drums
, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
1932 - 1975
arranger
, Bill Berry
Bill Berry
b.1930
, Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
, Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
b.1924
vibraphone
, Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
1928 - 2006
trumpet
, Don Menza, Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
1922 - 2008
trumpet
, Bob Florence and the Frank Capp
Frank Capp
Frank Capp
b.1931
drums
/Nat Pierce
Nat Pierce
Nat Pierce
1925 - 1992
piano
Juggernaut. He also led his own smaller groups, and in 1983 his album Heavy Company earned a Grammy Award as Best Jazz Album of the Year.

A busy studio musician, Shew's trumpet has been heard on such popular TV shows as Hawaii 5-0, Streets of San Francisco, the Bob Newhart Show, Mary Tyler Moore, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Eight Is Enough and many others, as well as in such films as Grease I and II, Rocky I and II, The Muppet Movie, The Drivers and Taxi. In his "spare time," Shew conducts clinics and master classes all over the world, teaches students one-on-one, writes educational articles in various trade magazines, and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild. Enough, one would surmise, to warrant his entry into the New Mexico Music Hall of Fame. Oh, and I almost forgot...since returning "home" from California in 2006, Shew has served as director of the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra. And just think, as a young man he really wanted to be an architect!

The LAJI Is Moving

News has been received from Ken Poston that the Los Angeles Jazz Institute must vacate its current headquarters at Cal State University, Long Beach by the end of 2009. The good news is that the LAJI may have another home by then; the bad news is that it will cost around $20,000 to pack and move the archives. Poston has hurriedly put together a fund-raiser for the LAJI, to be held Sunday, December 13, at the Airport Marriott Hotel, 5855 W. Century Blvd. The all-day event will include raffles, silent auctions, door prizes, CD vendors and more. For the "more," Poston has called on some of his friends in the Los Angeles jazz community, most of whom have agreed to perform. There will be continuous music from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. featuring (in part) the Bill Holman Band, Carl Saunders

Carl Saunders
Carl Saunders
b.1942
trumpet
' BeBop Big Band, The Cannonball/Coltrane Project, Tall and Small (tenor Pete Christlieb and trombonist Linda Small), the Steve Huffsteter Big Band, the Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra featuring Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous
b.1939
trombone
, the Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra, the Med Flory
Med Flory
Med Flory
1926 - 2014
sax, tenor
Big Band featuring SuperSax, Fred Laurence Selden playing Art Pepper +11, the Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom
Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom
b.1951
organ, Hammond B3
Big Band, the Dave Pell
Dave Pell
Dave Pell
b.1935
saxophone
/Med Flory Quintet, the Chuck Flores
Chuck Flores
b.1935
Octet, singers Pinky Winters and Dewey Erney, the Gerry Gibbs
Gerry Gibbs
Gerry Gibbs
b.1964
drums
Quartet, plus Ron Eschete
Ron Eschete
Ron Eschete
b.1948
guitar, electric
, Kurt Reichenbach, Frank Capp, Bob Summers
Bob Summers
b.1944
and Ron Stout. How's that for a roster? It rivals what can be seen and heard and many of the LAJI's semi-annual concerts, and those are planned months in advance! The cost is quite reasonable, with two "donation levels"—one giving full access to all venues, the other (pricier) option giving priority seating and a full buffet dinner. To reserve a space, phone 562-985-7065. And even if you are unable to be there, the LAJI can still use your help and support. For reservations at the Marriott, phone 800-228-9290; there's a special room rate for those attending the fund-raiser.

On the Horizon

Speaking of the LAJI, don't forget the Spring 2010 Jazz Festival May 27-30, also at the Sheraton LAX Four Points. Performers there will include the Gerry Mulligan

Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
Concert Jazz Band and Sextet, Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
b.1925
arranger
, the Teddy Charles
Teddy Charles
Teddy Charles
1928 - 2012
vibraphone
Tentet, Hal McKusick
Hal McKusick
Hal McKusick
b.1924
saxophone
's Jazz Workshop, the Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
Big Band, Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
b.1924
vibraphone
playing the music of Tiny Kahn, a tribute to Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
by Don Menza, Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
1929 - 2011
trombone
, the Elliot Lawrence Big Band, a tribute to Al Cohn
Al Cohn
Al Cohn
1925 - 1988
sax, tenor
and Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
1925 - 1985
sax, tenor
, and the music of Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
b.1933
producer
, Manny Albam
Manny Albam
Manny Albam
1922 - 2001
arranger
, Johnny Carisi
Johnny Carisi
b.1922
and Alec Wilder (with more to come). For information, call the number given above.

The annual Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, to be held next February 19-21, 2010 at the Hilton Hotel in Rockville, MD, will feature Mulgrew Miller

Mulgrew Miller
Mulgrew Miller
1955 - 2013
piano
, Bobby Watson
Bobby Watson
Bobby Watson
b.1953
sax, alto
, Terell Stafford
Terell Stafford
Terell Stafford
b.1966
trumpet
, Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
b.1958
drums
and a contingent of local musicians. For information, contact Matt Merewitz (matt@fullyaltered.com) or phone 215-629-6155.

Savannah, GA, has its own Music Festival, to be held March 31 - April 2, 2010. A highlight of the event is a Swing Central Jazz Band competition and workshop among a dozen invited high school bands from seven states (Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington). Led by pianist/educator/composer Marcus Roberts

Marcus Roberts
Marcus Roberts
b.1963
piano
, the clinicians of Swing Central include Jeff Clayton
Jeff Clayton
Jeff Clayton
b.1954
saxophone
, Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
Wycliffe Gordon
b.1967
trombone
, Jim Ketch
Jim Ketch
b.1952
trumpet
, Marcus Printup
Marcus Printup
Marcus Printup
b.1967
trumpet
, John Clayton
John Clayton
John Clayton
b.1952
bass, acoustic
, Gerald Clayton, Jason Marsalis
Jason Marsalis
Jason Marsalis
b.1977
drums
, Dave Stryker
Dave Stryker
Dave Stryker
b.1957
guitar
, Roland Guerin
Roland Guerin
Roland Guerin
b.1968
bass
, Ted Nash
Ted Nash
Ted Nash
b.1960
sax, tenor
, Obed Calvaire, Terell Stafford, Leon Anderson, Chris Crenshaw, Rodney Jordan, Bill Peterson and Jack Wilkins
Jack Wilkins
Jack Wilkins
b.1944
guitar
. Students work with these jazz artists for three days, perform in showcases along Savannah's River Street, play in competition rounds, and observe a number of SMF performances by other groups. During competition rounds, which are free to the public, each band plays three pre-selected numbers: "Moten Swing," "Stolen Moments" and "Black Bottom Stomp." The top three bands receive prizes of $5,000 for first, $2,500 for second and $1,000 for third place. For information about the festival, contact Ryan McMaken (ryan@savannahmusicfestival.org) or phone 912-234-3378, ext. 104.

The Monterey Jazz Festival is accepting applications from student big bands, combos, vocal ensembles, composers and individual musicians for the 6th annual Next Generation Festival, set for April 9-11, 2010 at the Monterey Conference Center. The festival's Jazz Competition is open to middle school, high school and college-level groups and musicians including vocalists. These young performers will compete for performance opportunities at the 53rd annual Monterey Jazz Festival, September 17-19, 2010. Auditions will be held for the MJF's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, which will tour jazz venues and festivals throughout North America, leading to a featured spot at the MJF's Sunday afternoon concert on Arena/Lyons Stage. Schools and students who would like to take part in the Next Generation competition should visit www.montereyjazzfestival.org for instructions on how to apply.

And that's it for now. Until next time, keep swingin...'!



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