BuJazzO: That's German for Swinging Big Band Jazz
It should be noted that BuJazzo's U.S. tour was sponsored by Germany's Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (why can't we have one of those?), the West German Broadcasting Corporation, the GVL (I can't say what that is) and the firm Daimler AG. Germany, it seems, wishes to present its young jazz musicians to the world, and so it does. What a concept! Of course, the U.S. sees no need for that, as jazz was born here and everyone knows we're Number 1. Instead, we've been sending another brand of "representatives" to assorted countries, and those staves they're carrying aren't musical instruments, more's the pity. But enough about that. BuJazzO, which was formed in 1987 by the renowned composer / arranger / bandleader / educator Peter Herbolzheimer, who served as its music director from 1988-2006, represents its country well, in concert appearances (more than 400 in twenty-four years) and on a number of excellent recordings. Young instrumentalists and singers must apply to become members of the orchestra; those chosen through auditions may remain with BuJazzO for two years up to a maximum age of twenty-four. The orchestra won the German Music Prize in 1997 and the West German Broadcasting Service Jazz Prize in 2010. Since Herbolzheimer relinquished the reins (he died in March 2010 at age seventy-four), BuJazzo's conductors have included Whigham, Marko Lackner, Bill Dobbins, Ed Partyka, Mike Herting, Neils Klein, Steffen Schorn, Maria Baptist and John Ruocco. Whigham now divides his time between Germany and Great Britain, where he serves as director of the BBC Big Band. No matter who's at the helm, BuJazzO keeps on swinging, and it was a pleasure to see and hear them doing exactly that here in New Mexico.
Farewell to a Friend
On August 13, I attended a memorial service, something I don't often do. But this one was special, as it honored a good friend and jazz-loving neighbor, the Rev. Robert O. Browne (known to many of his friends as Friar Boborino), who died July 2 at age eighty-six. Several months after Betty and I moved from North Carolina to Albuquerque in 2003, a gentleman passed by my garage as I was inside doing some cleaning. "Hello," he said, "my name's Bob Browne. We haven't met because I've been in the hospital for some time." Looking inside, and noting the several thousands of CDs encased on one wall, he said, "I see you have some music. What kind is it?" "Mostly big band jazz," I replied. He responded with one of the widest grins I'd seen in quite a while, and I knew immediately I'd found someone with whom I could share my love of America's classical music. Unfortunately, Bob wasn't well enough to endure long visits so I never got to know him as well as I would have liked, and I'm sure he felt the same, as he said so in e-mail messages. What I did learn about him was fascinating. As a boy in St. Louis he played sandlot baseball with neighbors Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola. Later, he worked in local radio and theatre groups and as a dancer. In the Army, he was an entertainment director who coordinated shows for troops who were to be deployed overseas, all the while working as a standup comic in San Francisco nightclubs. After his discharge Bob earned a degree in psychology from St. Louis University, then made a sharp u-turn, was graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1953 and began a ministry in the Presbyterian Church that lasted for fifty-eight years. Bob wasn't your typical garden-variety pastor; he was widely known for his offbeat sermons, and was once dubbed "the clown prince of the Presbyterian Church," an honor he probably cherished above all others (and there were many others). The Rev. Browne was also an ardent champion of human and civil rights who was jailed in Mississippi for helping African-Americans register to vote, having ridden a "freedom bus" to get there. On another occasion, he stood alone between an angry mob and a black family who'd moved into a white neighborhood in Pennsylvania and convinced the mob to disperse and go home. The Rev. Browne led a long and productive life, one that was filled with love, laughter, music and adventure; no one can ask for more than that. To me, he was a good friend, neighbor and fellow music-lover whose natural warmth and friendly smile will be missed.
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