Gold Medalists Abound at Big Band Olympics
Sunday, May 29
Those members of Canada's Boss Brass who were able to attend the Olympics (Clarke, Thompson, MacLeod, Warnaar) took part in the sixth and final panel discussion, appropriately named "Remembering Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass." The panel followed the last of the four films depicting "Big Bands Around the World" and preceded the afternoon's opening concert by the superb Chris Walden Big Band. I missed the opening number, "Moment's Notice," which featured alto saxophonist Kim Richmond, but arrived in time for the second, Walden's shapely arrangement of "Stella by Starlight," enriched by Bob McChesney's eloquent trombone solo. Walden, a German-born musician who has been in this country for a number of years working in the Hollywood studios, next paid tribute to one of his mentors, the late bandleader / trombonist / educator Peter Herbolzheimer, with Herbolzheimer's "Just Like That," notable not only for its catchy theme but for one of the weekend's more impressive solos, earnestly crafted by tenor saxophonist Lockart. Tenor Rick Keller was center stage on Michael Brecker's "Slings and Arrows," pianist Steinberger on "Someday My Prince Will Come," Lockart on his own composition, "Parallel Lines," trombonist Andrew Lippman on Walden's "Gatsby." Walden wrote most of the charts, and they were invariably resplendent. Three more were to follow: Dave Grusin's "Mulholland Falls" (from the film of that name, spotlighting Ron King's flugelhorn), Walden's deft arrangement of Christopher Cross's "Rainy Day in Vancouver" (Keller, tenor) and David Foster's theme for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, "Winter Games" (Keller again). One of the weekend's more well-balanced and rewarding performances.