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Big Band Report

Sonny Rollins Elected as Member of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

By Published: May 7, 2010
This month's most welcome news has nothing to do with big bands but everything to do with artistry and excellence: saxophonist and jazz icon Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The Academy, a center for independent policy research (I don't quite understand what that has to do with jazz, but so be it), is among the country's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and celebrates the 230th anniversary of its founding in 2010.

Other new members in the humanities and arts include Francis Ford Coppola, Denzel Washington, Suzanne Farrell and Thomas Hampson. The scholars, scientists, writers, artists and civic, philanthropic and corporate leaders among the 229 inductees include winners of the Nobel, Pulitzer and Shaw Prizes; MacArthur and Guggenheim fellows; and Oscar, Tony and Grammy Awards. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

"It's a tremendous privilege and honor to be made a Fellow of the Academy," said Rollins. "Not only for me, but for what I represent—the great American music called jazz." The new class will be inducted in a ceremony October 10 at the Academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Coming Events

The Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
b.1969
trumpet
Big Band is among the performers June 1-13 at the DC Jazz Festival (formerly the Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
Jazz Festival) in America's capital city. Other luminaries scheduled to appear include pianists Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
and Cyrus Chestnut
Cyrus Chestnut
Cyrus Chestnut
b.1963
piano
, trumpeter Claudio Roditi
Claudio Roditi
Claudio Roditi
b.1946
trumpet
, saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera
Paquito D'Rivera
Paquito D'Rivera
b.1948
saxophone
, singers Roberta Gambarini and Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves
b.1956
vocalist
, the Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez
b.1951
congas
and Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
b.1936
piano
Latin Jazz Bands, violinist Regina Carter
Regina Carter
Regina Carter
b.1966
violin
and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Stars in a special tribute to NEA Jazz Master James Moody
James Moody
James Moody
1925 - 2010
reeds
.

A number of events are free to the public including two Jazz and Families Fun Days, a courtyard concert at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden, and Jazz on the Potomac performances at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage with trumpeter Etienne Charles

Etienne Charles
Etienne Charles
b.1983
trumpet
and the Berklee College World Jazz Nonet. For information, phone Kim Smith, 718-858-2557, or e-mail ksmithpr@earthlink.net

We finally have a name for the Ken Poston / Los Angeles Jazz Institute event May 27-30 at the L.A. Airport Marriott Hotel—"East Coast Sounds: Out of the Cool and Into the Hot." Sixteen concerts in all featuring Bob Brookmeyer

Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
1929 - 2011
trombone
, Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
b.1925
arranger
, Mose Allison
Mose Allison
Mose Allison
b.1927
composer/conductor
, Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
b.1924
vibraphone
, Mundell Lowe
Mundell Lowe
Mundell Lowe
b.1922
guitar
, Teddy Charles
Teddy Charles
Teddy Charles
1928 - 2012
vibraphone
, Harry Allen
Harry Allen
Harry Allen
b.1966
saxophone
, Grant Stewart
Grant Stewart
Grant Stewart
b.1971
sax, tenor
, Scott Robinson
Scott Robinson
Scott Robinson
b.1959
reeds
, Sam Most
Sam Most
Sam Most
1930 - 2013
flute
, Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
b.1953
drums
, Med Flory
Med Flory
Med Flory
1926 - 2014
sax, tenor
and SuperSax, Don Menza
Don Menza
Don Menza
b.1936
saxophone
, the Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
Concert Jazz Band, the Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
1928 - 2006
trumpet
Alumni Band and the Cannonball / Coltrane Project. Plus the usual films, panel discussions and poolside concerts. For more information, phone 562-200-5477 or go online to www.lajazzinstitute.org

How's this for an idea whose time has come: a Jazz and Blues Camp for girls. No kidding! The camp is set for August 9-14 at the Jazzschool in Berkeley, California. Designed for instrumentalists and vocalists from grades 6-12, the camp includes classes and instruction in combos, blues and funk, Latin band, percussion, vocal group, big band, gospel choir, songwriting, theory and improvisation, listening and appreciation, and labs for horns, piano, guitar, bass and drums. Each musician also receives one private lesson on her chosen instrument or voice.

The Jazz and Blues Camp is directed by Ellen Seeling and Jean Fineberg, both members of the splendid Montclair Women's Big Band, and the faculty includes Fineberg and Mad Duran (saxophones, winds, ensembles), Seeling and Christy Dana (trumpet, ensembles, theory and improvisation, Jazz listening and appreciation), Mimi Fox (guitar, ensembles), Tammy Hall and Erika Oba (piano, keyboards, ensembles), Ruth Davies and Ariane Cap (acoustic and electric bass, ensembles), Kelly Fasman and Michaelle Goerlitz (drums, percussion, ensembles), Jessica Neighbor and Rhonda Benin (vocals, vocal ensembles, song writing). Most are members of the Montclair Women's Big Band.

While some may scoff at the idea of a Jazz Camp for girls, they are living in the past, as even a cursory glance at today's jazz scene will confirm that talented women are rapidly moving to the forefront in what was once a male-dominated realm. No longer confined to the role of vocalist or pianist, women in 2010 are excelling on every instrument in groups of all shapes and sizes, playing music from traditional to straight-ahead to avant-garde. They've even formed big bands that are as taut and swinging as almost any that one can name—not only Montclair but DIVA, Maiden Voyage and the Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra, as well as "mixed" bands led by Carla Bley

Carla Bley
Carla Bley
b.1938
piano
, Jill Townsend, Anita Brown
Anita Brown
b.1959
band/orchestra
and others. And when an ensemble like the Army Blues names Liesl Whitaker to lead its trumpet section, one knows that women have arrived and are here to stay. Let's hope that Jazz Camps for girls are here to stay too.

For program information, phone 510-758-2200, or e-mail girlscamp@jazzschool.com. For registration information, phone the Jazzschool, 510-845-5373, e-mail josh@jazzschool.com, or go online to www.jazzschool.com

Noted in Passing

Romanian-born trombonist Peter Herbolzheimer

Peter Herbolzheimer
Peter Herbolzheimer
1935 - 2010
trombone
, who became one of Germany's best and most popular big-band leaders, died March 27 in Cologne. He was 74 years old.

After honing his chops in the U.S., Herbolzheimer's long and distinguished career moved into high gear in 1969 when he formed the Rhythm Combination & Brass, a semi-big band (trumpets, trombones, rhythm and one saxophonist, Herb Geller

Herb Geller
Herb Geller
1928 - 2013
saxophone
) that was later expanded to include a full saxophone section, much like Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
1935 - 2010
trombone
's Boss Brass in Canada. In 1987, he became founder and music director of the German Youth Jazz Orchestra, BuJazzO, a position he held through 2006.

Herbolzheimer amassed many honors, performed with a who's who of jazz greats from the States and Europe, and recorded a number of superb big-band albums with the RC&B and BuJazzO. Some are out of print but among those still available, one can easily recommend Colours of a Band, Masterpieces, Smile, Friends and Silhouettes and (with BuJazzO) Calling South Africa, Focus on Vocals and On Tour.

Here in the States, jazz suffered two great losses in March and April with the passing of guitarist Herb Ellis

Herb Ellis
Herb Ellis
1921 - 2010
guitar
(March 28) and pianist John Bunch
John Bunch
John Bunch
1921 - 2010
piano
(April 6).

Ellis, whose smooth, blues-inflected style endeared him to generations of fans, is perhaps best known as a member of the acclaimed Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
1925 - 2007
piano
Trio in the mid- to late-1950s. He was the last surviving member of that particular group, Peterson having died in December 2007 and bassist Ray Brown
Ray Brown
Ray Brown
1926 - 2002
bass, acoustic
in July 2002. In the 1960s, Ellis became a busy studio musician in Los Angeles, performing mainly on television variety shows. He returned to jazz in 1973, joining fellow guitarists Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
1923 - 2004
guitar, electric
and Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
1925 - 1999
guitar
in the group Great Guitars. He recorded frequently over the next two decades, with that group and as a leader, on the Concord Jazz label.

Bunch, an elegant stylist who was at home playing swing or bop, performed most recently with the trio New York Swing, whose other members were guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli

Bucky Pizzarelli
Bucky Pizzarelli
b.1926
guitar
and bassist Jay Leonhart
Jay Leonhart
Jay Leonhart
b.1940
bass
. That was the latest stop in a career that began when Bunch was a teen-ager in Tipton, Indiana, and included time in bands led by Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
, Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
, Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
1928 - 2006
trumpet
, Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
and Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa
1909 - 1973
drums
and six years as pianist and music director for singer Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
b.1926
vocalist
. He played almost to the end, appearing with New York Swing less than a month before his passing.

North of the border, Canada lost a fine musician in March with the passing of saxophonist Eugene Amaro, a longtime stalwart with Rob McConnell's Boss Brass who more recently led the Eugene Amaro Quartet. He also co-led the Eugene Amaro / Sam Noto

Sam Noto
b.1930
Quintet and performed with the Ron Rully Sextet and Ian McDougall Dectet.

Mike Zwerin

Mike Zwerin
b.1930
, who gave up the presidency of an American steel company to play Jazz trombone and later became a noted critic in Europe, died April 2 in Paris. He was 79 years old. As a trombonist, Zwerin played with big bands led by Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
1928 - 2006
trumpet
and Claude Thornhill
Claude Thornhill
Claude Thornhill
1909 - 1965
vocalist
, and recorded with musicians including Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
, Earl Hines
Earl Hines
Earl Hines
1903 - 1983
piano
and Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
b.1941
composer/conductor
He worked for his father at the Capitol Steel Corp. and became president when his father died in 1960. From 1964-69, Zwerin was jazz columnist for the Village Voice in New York, and in 1977 became a music critic for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. Zwerin wrote a number of books including five about jazz, most notably Close Enough for Jazz and The Parisian Jazz Chronicles: An Improvisational Memoir.

Which brings us to another writer of note, Gene Lees

Gene Lees
b.1928
, a transplanted Canadian who was widely known and respected for his jazz essays and biographies of such music greats as Oscar Peterson, Woody Herman and Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
Johnny Mercer
1909 - 1976
composer/conductor
. Lees died April 22 at his home in Ojai, California. He was 82 years old. Lees was also a composer and lyricist who wrote the words to Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
piano
's "Quiet Nights and Quiet Stars" and pianist Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
' "Waltz for Debby," among other songs. Lees served as editor of DownBeat magazine from 1959-61 before striking out on his own as a writer, critic and historian. In 1981 he founded the Gene Lees Newsletter, which he maintained until his passing. Among Lees' 18 books are Oscar Peterson: The Will to Swing; Cats of Any Color: Jazz Black and White; Leader of the Band: The Life of Woody Herman and You Can't Steal a Gift: Dizzy, Clark, Milt and Nat. At the time of his death, Lees was completing work on a biography of Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw
Artie Shaw
1910 - 2004
clarinet
.

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


New and Noteworthy

1. Phil Kelly, Ballet of the Bouncing Beagles (Origin)
2. Frank Macchia, Folk Songs for Jazzers (Cacophony)
3. Molnycke Storband, Premiere (InVision Group)
4. Nova Jazz Orchestra, A Time of Reckoning (NJO)
5. DVC Jazz with Bob Mintzer, Live at Yoshi's (DVC Jazz)
6. Steve Waterman Jazz Orchestra, October Arrival (Hydro Jazz)
7. New Zealand School of Music Big Band, Run for Cover (Tbone Music)
8. Omar Sosa / NDR Big Band, Celebration (ta Records)
9. Russ Spiegel's Big Bang (Oomph! Records)
10. Istanbul Superband, Plays Omer Goksel (Muzikal)
11. The Limited Edition Big Band, For Love of the Music (No Label)
12. Lasse Lindgren Constellations, In the Mood for Standards (Imogena)
13. Norrbotten Big Band, Grains (Phono Suecia)
14. U North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band, Lab 2009 (UNT Jazz)
15. Big Band Ritmo Sinfonica Citta di Verona, Restless Spirits (no label)



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