All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Big Band Report

These Are a Few of My Favorite....Charts

By Published: October 1, 2010
Whenever the topic of desert islands arises among jazz fans, the focus is invariably on which albums (discs) one would choose to cram into a suitcase if one were ever stranded on an otherwise barren island. While the consideration of particular arrangements seldom governs the debate, I really think it should. After all, few albums, however admirable, can be entirely engaging—highs and lows are inevitable, and some selections inescapably bestow more pleasure than others. A classic arrangement, on the other hand, is worth its weight in gold, as one can listen to it over and over again and marvel each time at its ingenuity, tastefulness and charm. With that in mind, I've given some thought to some of the big-band charts—not albums—I'd want by my side in the event that some catastrophic event should leave me marooned on a desert island. The list is by no means comprehensive; I'm sure there are many others that would give me enduring satisfaction as well.

With almost 2,400 big-band CDs in the garage / library, I can do no more than barely scratch the surface. These are merely a handful (an even hundred, actually) of arrangements that I've cherished over the years and can listen to time and again without becoming restless or bored. I'll begin by naming my personal Top Ten (a relatively easy task, as it turns out), with the remaining 90 listed in alphabetical order. Names of the arrangers are given in parentheses; an asterisk (*) denotes that the arranger is also the composer. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite charts, starting with the ten gold medal winners.

1. Stompin' at the Savoy (Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman

band/orchestra
has taken this well-worn jazz evergreen and remade it in his own incomparable style). 2. Love for Sale (little-known Pete Meyers is the man behind one of the most hard-driving big-band charts ever written). 3. When You're Smiling (Tom Kubis opens this seductive arrangement with a whisper and builds it to a breathtaking climax). 4. Big Swing Face (*Bill Potts
Bill Potts
b.1928
' awesome chart makes even the superlative Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
Buddy Rich
1917 - 1987
drums
ensemble sound better). 5. Young and Foolish (a lovely song, and an even lovelier chart by Frank Mantooth). 6. The Touch of Your Lips (one can almost feel the yearning and fulfillment in Canadian Rick Wilkins' tasteful arrangement). 7. Opus de Funk (Nat Pierce
Nat Pierce
Nat Pierce
1925 - 1992
piano
lets Horace Silver
Horace Silver
Horace Silver
b.1928
piano
's memorable theme speak for itself, giving Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
's Third Herd some of its finest moments). 8. Here's That Rainy Day (who can resist Dee Barton's lustrous score for unison trombones?). 9. Tumbling Tumbleweeds (Mike Barone
Mike Barone
b.1936
has found a charming home on the range and made it swing like a lariat). 10. What's New (Bill Holman again, this time weaving his special magic around a garden-variety standard).

And here are the others:

A Little Minor Booze (*Willie Maiden
Willie Maiden
b.1928
). A Warm Breeze (*Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico
b.1924
composer/conductor
). After You've Gone (Bill Holman). Allisamba (*Allan Ganley
Allan Ganley
Allan Ganley
b.1931
). Always and Forever (Bob Curnow). Angel Eyes (Ray Brown
Ray Brown
Ray Brown
1926 - 2002
bass, acoustic
). Autobahn Blues (*Ralph Burns
Ralph Burns
Ralph Burns
b.1922
composer/conductor
). Autumn in New York (Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
Rob McConnell
1935 - 2010
trombone
). Baile Indio (*Raul Romero). Basie! (*Ernie Wilkins
Ernie Wilkins
Ernie Wilkins
1922 - 1999
arranger
). Beyond the Sea (Frank Mantooth). Body and Soul (Bob Florence
Bob Florence
Bob Florence
1932 - 2008
band/orchestra
). Bossa Nova de Funk (*Willie Maiden). Bright Eyes (*Bill Holman). Bright Moon (*Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
1921 - 2008
clarinet
). Bweebida Bobbida (*Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
). Captain Perfect (*Alf Clausen). Carmelo's by the Freeway (*Bob Florence). Ceora (John Fedchock
John Fedchock
John Fedchock
b.1957
trombone
). Dancing Men (*John La Barbera
John La Barbera
John La Barbera
b.1945
composer/conductor
). Day In, Day Out (Bill Holman). Del Sasser (Ray Brown). Dizzy's Business (*Ernie Wilkins). Dreamer of Dreams (*Jim Martinez
Jim Martinez
b.1965
piano
). 88 Basie Street (*Sammy Nestico). Firm Roots (Dave Eshelman). 555 Feet High (*Bill Potts). Four Brothers (*Jimmy Giuffre). Frame for the Blues (*Slide Hampton
Slide Hampton
Slide Hampton
b.1932
trombone
). Frank Speaking (*Bill Russo).

The Heat's On (*Sammy Nestico). I Remember Clifford (*Benny Golson
Benny Golson
Benny Golson
b.1929
sax, tenor
). It Might as Well Be Spring (Don Schamber). I Remember You (Bill Holman). (It's Just) Talk (Bob Curnow). Junk Mail Special (*Bob Florence). Just Friends (Rob McConnell). Just One of Those Things (Rob McConnell). Keeper of the Flame (*Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
1924 - 1994
trumpet
). Kingfish (*Bill Holman). La Fiesta (Kenichi Tsunoda). Laura (Jim Martin). Leo the Lion (*Tiny Kahn). Limehouse Blues (Phil Kelly
Phil Kelly
Phil Kelly
b.1937
composer/conductor
). Little Pony (*Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
Neal Hefti
1922 - 2008
trumpet
). Lookin' for the Back Door (*Alf Clausen). Main Street News (*Jim Martin). Mean to Me (Frank Mantooth). The Meaning of the Blues {Bill Mathieu). The Midnight Sun Will Never Set (*Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
b.1933
producer
). More Moon (*Shorty Rogers). My Shining Hour (Mark Anderson). Not Really the Blues (*Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
b.1925
arranger
). Not While I'm Around (Ed Vezinho). The Opener (*Bill Holman). Playground (*Bill Potts). Purple Porpoise Parkway (*Tom Kubis). Quintessence (Rob McConnell). The Red Door (*Gerry Mulligan / *Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
1925 - 1985
sax, tenor
). Reuben's Blues (*Gene Roland
Gene Roland
b.1921
).

Robbins Nest (Sammy Nestico). Sail Away (Jim Martin). Samba Dees Godda Do It (*Tom Kubis). Shhhhhhh! (*Bill Potts). Secret Love (Jim Martin). Short Stop (*Shorty Rogers). Sleep (Ralph Burns / Nat Pierce). Smile (Ed Vezinho). Soon (Don Schamber). Spain (Kenichi Tsunoda). Stella by Starlight (Slide Hampton). Strike Up the Band (Sammy Nestico). Summertime (Bill Potts). Swing House (*Gerry Mulligan). Symphony in Riffs (*Benny Carter
Benny Carter
Benny Carter
1907 - 2003
sax, alto
). That Old Black Magic (Frank Mantooth). Them There Eyes (Rob McConnell). Time After Time (Don Schamber). Time for a Change (*Hank Levy
Hank Levy
1927 - 2001
sax, tenor
). Titter Pipes (*Tommy Newsom
Tommy Newsom
Tommy Newsom
1929 - 2007
saxophone
). Tristesse (*Raul Romero). Tuxedo Junction (Gene Roland). Walkin' Shoes (*Gerry Mulligan). When Lights Are Low (*Benny Carter). Whirly Bird (*Neal Hefti). Willowcrest (*Bob Florence). Without a Song (Rick Stitzel). Ya Gotta Try (*Sammy Nestico). Young Blood (*Gerry Mulligan). Zoot! (*Bill Holman).

As noted, these charts comprise no more than a handful of the many wonderful big-band arrangements ensconced in the ever-growing library. If you have any personal favorites you'd like to share, I'd be more than happy to hear from you, as chances are they'd include some I've overlooked. Sorting through the library is a daunting task, and many of these were retrieved from memory. They are, however, charts that have given me great pleasure, and I can heartily commend them to anyone who appreciates the singular artistry and power of big-band jazz.

Jazzed Media Plans Woody Herman Documentary

Graham Carter, owner of Jazzed Media, one of the US' foremost big-band record labels, has announced plans to produce a documentary film, Blue Flame, examining the life of the legendary bandleader Woody Herman. Carter has already released documentaries on saxophonists Phil Woods
Phil Woods
Phil Woods
b.1931
sax, alto
(A Life in E Flat) and Bud Shank
Bud Shank
Bud Shank
1926 - 2009
saxophone
(Against the Tide) and is preparing a third, Artistry in Rhythm, on the life of Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
for release early in 2011.



Herman was responsible for bringing to the forefront a number of luminaries who cut their jazz teeth in his Thundering Herds including the brothers Pete and Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
1927 - 2001
trumpet
, Flip Phillips
Flip Phillips
Flip Phillips
1915 - 2001
sax, tenor
, Neal Hefti, Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
b.1924
vibraphone
, Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn
Al Cohn
Al Cohn
1925 - 1988
sax, tenor
, Sal Nistico
Sal Nistico
Sal Nistico
1948 - 1991
saxophone
, Bill Chase
Bill Chase
Bill Chase
1934 - 1974
trumpet
, Frank Tiberi
Frank Tiberi
Frank Tiberi
b.1928
sax, tenor
, Alan Broadbent
Alan Broadbent
Alan Broadbent
b.1947
piano
, Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
Joe Lovano
b.1952
saxophone
, John Fedchock and Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton
b.1953
drums
. Herman's topnotch arrangers included Hefti, Ralph Burns, Nat Pierce, Shorty Rogers, Gene Roland, Gerry Mulligan and Bill Holman.

Artists currently appearing on the Jazzed Media label include Holman, Gibbs, Phil Woods, Bill Charlap
Bill Charlap
Bill Charlap
b.1966
piano
, Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch
b.1956
trumpet
, Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
b.1939
flute
, Marvin Stamm
Marvin Stamm
Marvin Stamm
b.1939
trumpet
,Bill Mays
Bill Mays
Bill Mays
b.1944
piano
, Carl Saunders
Carl Saunders
Carl Saunders
b.1942
trumpet
, Don Menza
Don Menza
Don Menza
b.1936
saxophone
, Christian Jacob, Scott Whitfield
Scott Whitfield
Scott Whitfield
b.1963
trombone
, Andy Martin
Andy Martin
Andy Martin
b.1960
, Lanny Morgan
Lanny Morgan
Lanny Morgan
b.1934
, Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
Bobby Shew
b.1941
trumpet
, Irene Kral
Irene Kral
Irene Kral
1932 - 1978
vocalist
, Bob Lark
Bob Lark
Bob Lark
b.1958
trumpet
, Jeff and John Clayton
John Clayton
John Clayton
b.1952
bass, acoustic
, Lorraine Feather
Lorraine Feather
Lorraine Feather
b.1948
lyricist
, Jim McNeely
Jim McNeely
Jim McNeely
b.1949
composer/conductor
, Mel Martin
Mel Martin
Mel Martin
b.1942
saxophone
, Frank Tiberi and Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
Matt Wilson
b.1964
drums
.

I'm Doing Fine; the Computer, Not So Good

Before departing, a word about August's physical problems, and that word is "gone," hopefully for a long time to come. On the other hand, the computer died early in September and was replaced by another, the bugs in which haven't yet been squashed. The old computer, whose monitor insisted on "going to sleep" every twenty minutes, was placed in the hands of Best Buy's widely ballyhooed Geek Squad who said they'd quickly found the problem and would have the computer in apple-pie order in a day or two at most. That was on September 14. On Saturday, September 18, the Geeks admitted the diagnosis was wrong, said they couldn't solve the problem and suggested that I buy a new computer, which I did that very day, authorizing them to transfer data from the old computer's hard drive to the newer one, a procedure, I was told, that would take two to three days at most. When I phoned five days later (September 22) to see how things were going, I was told that the data transfer hadn't been completed but that I should have the computer back that evening (Wednesday) or early Thursday morning. I visited Best Buy on Wednesday evening (Betty had some business there) and was told that Thursday afternoon seemed a more likely target. When I phoned Thursday evening (having heard nothing from the Geeks), I was assured that the data transfer would positively be completed by Friday morning. I called again at 10:30 a.m. Friday, and after the usual interminable wait, was told that the data transfer was "almost" complete. "Give us another hour or so and she'll be ready to go." I gave them more than that, arriving at Best Buy around two o'clock Friday afternoon. "Well, we just need ten or fifteen more minutes to wrap things up," quoth the Geeks. I left the store around 3:30 that afternoon, old and new computers in hand, eleven days after entrusting them to the Geek Squad. The moral, I suppose, is that one can take any estimated time quoted to repair a computer (or complete a simple data transfer) and multiply it by about three, especially when dealing with the over-praised Geek Squad.

Postscript: The computer worked fine all day Saturday, long enough for me to write this column. Sunday morning (today), I couldn't get it to start; no more than a black screen. So back it went to Best Buy, where one of the Geeks, Kyle, somehow got it up and running and changed the settings so the computer and monitor won't shut off automatically after twenty or so minutes (should have done that in the first place). Needless to say, I hope that's my last visit to the Geeks for a while. So far, so good . . .

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

New and Noteworthy

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

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

3. Allen Carter Big Band, Gifts (no label)

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

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

6. Howard University Jazz Ensemble, Bright Moments (HUJE Jazz)

7. Michael Treni, Turnaround (Bell Production)

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

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

10. Fred Hess Big Band, Hold On (Dazzle Records)

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. John Dankworth Orchestra, At the Newport Jazz Festival, 1959 (Harkit)


comments powered by Disqus