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Big Band Report

It's Time for the News! But First, a Brief Report from Sick Bay...

By Published: September 2, 2010
In 1985, Breeden was inducted into the International Association of Jazz Educators' Hall of Fame, and in 2003, the North Texas Jazz Festival introduced the Leon Breeden Award to honor the best high school or middle school band at the festival. The award will go on, as will Breeden's indelible influence on jazz education in schools throughout the country and around the world.

Bang the Drum Slowly

First we lost young lion Chris Dagley, then old pro Martin Drew
Martin Drew
Martin Drew
1944 - 2010
drums
, and now the one and only Jack Parnell
Jack Parnell
Jack Parnell
1923 - 2010
drums
, making the summer of 2010 the most horrendous for British drummers in recent memory, if not for all time. Drew was a still-active 66, Dagley only 38, Parnell 87 when he succumbed to cancer on August 8. Newspapers headlined Parnell's five-year tenure as music director of television's Muppet Show, but I'll remember him best as the driving force behind Ted Heath
Ted Heath
b.1900
's turbo-charged jazz / dance band in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Parnell, a Londoner and the son of vaudevillians, left Heath's band to form his own ensembles before assuming a position as music director of Associated Television (ATV), in which capacity he supervised music for the long-running variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium, produced specials featuring Tom Jones, Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
b.1942
vocalist
, Lena Horne
Lena Horne
Lena Horne
1917 - 2010
vocalist
, Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Jr.
1925 - 1990
vocalist
and others, and served as music director for comedian Benny Hill's show.

In 1976, ATV began producing The Muppet Show, which had inexplicably been snubbed by American television. Parnell conducted the orchestra for the series' 120 episodes, although its "on-screen" bandleader was the pop-eyed Muppet conductor, Nigel. It was Parnell who persuaded the peerless drummer Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
to appear on the show and engage in a memorable "drum duel" with the Muppets' resident time-keeper, Animal (whose actual drumming was done by Parnell's good friend, Ronnie Verrell). Parnell retired in 1982 after 22 years at ATV and returned to his first love, jazz performance, fronting his own groups and playing in clubs and other venues with such friends as cornetist Ruby Braff
Ruby Braff
Ruby Braff
b.1927
cornet
, trumpeter Kenny Baker
Kenny Baker
1921 - 1999
trumpet
and clarinetist Bob Wilber
Bob Wilber
b.1928
and appearing with the Ted Heath Tribute Band. He continued performing until 20007, when ill health forced him to pack away the drum kit for good.

News We've All Been Waiting to Hear

At long last, Ken Poston has announced the lineup for the Los Angeles Jazz Institute's Come Swing with Me: A Jazz / Big Band Tribute to Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
1915 - 1998
vocalist
, to be held October 21-24 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel. Included are 13 concerts, half a dozen Sinatra films, three panel discussions and three special presentations, one ("The Voice: Sinatra in the Forties") by Poston and two ("Sessions with Sinatra: Frank Sinatra and the Art of Recording" and "Sinatra at the Movies") by Charles Granata. On Sunday, there'll be an optional bus tour of "Sinatra's Hollywood" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As for the concerts, no less than the Pied Pipers (with big band) kick things off Saturday afternoon in the Marquis Ballroom. Successive concerts will showcase singers Kurt Reichenbach, Steve Lippia, Frankie Randall, Michael Andrew, Dennis Rowland and Dena Martin; the Mike Melvoin
Mike Melvoin
b.1937
Trio; the Montreal JazzKidz; the Shades of Tony Morelli Big Band; the Patrick Williams Orchestra; the Frank Capp
Frank Capp
Frank Capp
b.1931
drums
Juggernaut with guest Michael Wayne Deese; the Nelson Riddle
Nelson Riddle
1921 - 1985
arranger
Orchestra with guests Gary Williams and Sue Raney
Sue Raney
Sue Raney
b.1940
vocalist
; the Plas Johnson
Plas Johnson
Plas Johnson
b.1931
saxophone
Quartet; the Ron Jones Jazz Influence Orchestra; the Ray Anthony
Ray Anthony
Ray Anthony
b.1922
trumpet
Orchestra, and the Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
b.1925
arranger
Orchestra with guest Michael Andrew.

As always, that's quite a lineup. And as always, more information can be found at www.lajazzinstitute.org or by phoning 562-200-5477.

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

New and Noteworthy

1. Les Hooper Band, Live at Typhoon (Hooperman Records)

2. Stan Kenton, This Is an Orchestra! (Tantara)

3. Phil Woods / DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, Solitude (Jazzed Media)

4. Des Moines Big Band, Landmark (No Label)

5. The Timucua Jazz Orchestra, Live at Timucua (Timucua Arts Foundation)

6. Big Crazy Energy NY Big Band, Inspirations, Vol. 1 (Rosa Records)

7. Vince Norman / Joe McCarthy Big Band, Bright Future (OA2 Records)

8. Riverside Community College, A Minor Case of the Blues (Sea Breeze)

9. Makoto Ozone / No Name Horses, Jungle (Verve Japan)

10. Toronto Jazz Orchestra, The Path (TJO)

11. David Berger Jazz Orchestra, Sing Me a Love Song (Such Sweet Thunder)

12. Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, The Ikaros Suite (Sittel)

13. Fredonia Jazz Ensemble, Still Kickin' (FJE)

14. Waco Jazz Orchestra, Untitled (WJO)

15. Northeastern State University, Portrait (NSU Jazz Lab)


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