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Big Band Report

Gold Medalists Abound at Big Band Olympics

By Published: June 15, 2011
Alto saxophonist Babad dazzled on a Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
Julian
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
1928 - 1975
saxophone
blues whose name escapes me (I keep thinking "Sack O' Woe" but can't be certain), while Thompson—who has to be one of the world's best unsung pianists—held everyone in thrall on Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
' "My Bells." McConnell's clever arrangement of Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
1915 - 1967
piano
's "Take the 'A" Train" was next, followed in order by Shew's ballad feature, "A Time for Love," Harry "Sweets" Edison
Harry
Harry "Sweets" Edison
1915 - 1999
trumpet
's groovy "Jive at Five" and Bird's rapid-fire bop classic, "Confirmation," by which time the clock had struck eleven. "Rob never did encores," MacLeod said of McConnell as the band received a well-deserved standing ovation from the survivors, "but he's not here tonight, so . . ." The band members returned to their seats and ended the concert, and the Big Band Olympics, with the late Loonis McGlohon's haunting balled, "Songbird."

Epilogue

In spite of that one puzzling misstep Sunday evening, the Olympics was an inspiring and pleasurable experience. After all, how could anyone not be thrilled by the opportunity to see and hear more than a dozen topnotch big bands performing music in various styles, reinforced by vintage films and interesting panel discussions. It's a shame that the audience for these events is apparently shrinking (time was when I'd have to scramble to find a seat at some concerts, an inconvenience that no longer applies, to say the least), but that's a fact of life. Let's hope that Poston and the LAJI can continue to buck the odds and present these exhilarating events, as they are an essential component in the ongoing effort to keep the flame of big-band jazz burning.

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Better . . .

Poston has announced the theme and (partial) lineup for the LAJI's next event, October 20-23 at the Los Angeles Marriott Airport hotel. "Modern Sounds: Celebrating the West Coast Big Band Sound" will showcase twenty-eight big bands and large ensembles (how do they do it?) over the course of four days with no increase in the price for tickets or registration (again, how do they do it?). Here's the lineup (so far) with a few more to be added:

Concerts celebrating Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
Shorty Rogers
1924 - 1994
trumpet
and the Roots of West Coast Jazz; the Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
Alumni Band directed by Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
Terry Gibbs
b.1924
vibraphone
; an all-star big band featuring Stan Kenton alumni; concerts celebrating the birth of the West Coast sound; the Shorty Rogers and His Giants Alumni; the Dave Pell
Dave Pell
Dave Pell
b.1935
saxophone
Octet; concerts celebrating Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
on the West Coast; an all-star big band of Kenton alumni directed by Bill Holman; the Mulligan Tentet, also directed by Holman; the Bill Holman and Russell Garcia
Russell Garcia
Russell Garcia
1916 - 2011
composer/conductor
big bands; the Johnny Richards Orchestra directed by Joel Kaye; Sue Raney
Sue Raney
Sue Raney
b.1940
vocalist
Sings Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
1921 - 2008
clarinet
; the Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra playing the music of Marty Paich
Marty Paich
1925 - 1995
composer/conductor
; the Pete Rugolo
Pete Rugolo
Pete Rugolo
b.1915
composer/conductor
Orchestra; Orbits in Sound: the 12-Tone Compositions and Arrangements of Spud Murphy
Spud Murphy
b.1908
; the Carl Saunders Nonet playing the music of Don Fagerquist; the Duane Tatro Ensemble: Jazz for Moderns; the music of Bud Shank
Bud Shank
Bud Shank
1926 - 2009
saxophone
and Bob Cooper
Bob Cooper
1925 - 1993
saxophone
; the Bobby Shew Ensemble playing Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
and Jack Montrose
Jack Montrose
b.1928
; Jazz Lab: the Music of John Graas
John Graas
John Graas
b.1924
; the music of the Clifford Brown / Jack Montrose Ensemble; Russ Garcia and the Wigville Band; concerts celebrating music in the movies; the Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
Johnny Mandel
b.1925
arranger
Big Band; and special presentations on "Wigville Inc: Shorty Rogers / Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
1920 - 1984
drums
and Modern Animation on the West Coast" and "Sleepy Stein, KNOB and the Birth of Jazz Radio."

See anything you like? For more information, go to www.lajazzinstitute.org or phone 562-200-5477.

Way to Go, Graham!

The International Telly Awards, which recognize excellence in the film and video industries, have given a 2011 Telly Award—Bronze to the documentary film Stan Kenton: Artistry in Rhythm—Portrait of a Jazz Legend, produced and directed by Grammy-nominated and award-winning jazz filmmaker Graham Carter in association with the Los Angeles Jazz Institute. The DVD was released earlier this year on Carter's Jazzed Media label. The almost two-hour long documentary covers all aspects of Kenton's career and includes excerpts from much of the groundbreaking music performed by Kenton's orchestra over the course of nearly 40 years, from the early 1940s through the mid-70s. Besides being in the forefront of integrating Afro-Cuban rhythms into big-band jazz, Kenton was among the pioneers in introducing jazz education in colleges and high schools in this country and around the world. Hats off to Graham Carter and Jazzed Media!

Fond Farewells


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