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

"Modern Sounds," or: Running a Marathon in Full Body Armor

By Published: November 8, 2011
The weekend's first concert, at poolside, was led, appropriately enough, by tenor saxophonist Dave Pell
Dave Pell
Dave Pell
b.1935
saxophone
, an early exponent of West Coast jazz whose popular octet emerged in the mid-1950s from the Les Brown Orchestra, in whose ranks Pell served from 1947-55, and included such well-known artists as Marty Paich
Marty Paich
1925 - 1995
composer/conductor
, Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
Mel Lewis
1929 - 1990
drums
, Don Fagerquist, Pepper Adams
Pepper Adams
Pepper Adams
1930 - 1986
sax, baritone
, Art Pepper, Benny Carter
Benny Carter
Benny Carter
1907 - 2003
sax, alto
, Ronny Lang, Jack Sperling
Jack Sperling
Jack Sperling
1922 - 2004
drums
and Red Mitchell
Red Mitchell
Red Mitchell
b.1927
bass
. This time around, the group included Pell, trumpeter Carl Saunders
Carl Saunders
Carl Saunders
b.1942
trumpet
, trombonist Andy Martin
Andy Martin
Andy Martin
b.1960
, baritone Bob Efford
Bob Efford
b.1928
, pianist John Campbell
John Campbell
b.1955
, guitarist Barry Zweig
Barry Zweig
Barry Zweig
b.1942
guitar, electric
, bassist Richard Simon
Richard Simon
Richard Simon
b.1949
bass, acoustic
and drummer Frank Capp
Frank Capp
Frank Capp
b.1931
drums
. The octet opened with "Jazz Junction" (which sounded to me like "Little Orphan Annie") and continued with (mostly) standards: "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," "Have You Met Miss Jones," "Angel Eyes," "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Mountain Greenery" along with one original, "Crescendo Date." Most of the charts were by Paich. Soloists were first-class, with Martin featured on the ballad "If I Had You." I'd always thought Lorenz Hart was being facetious when he included the line "hates California, it's cold and it's damp" in "The Lady Is a Tramp," but seated at poolside for this concert I started to believe he was simply being honest.

The Rugolo concert was next up, in the Marriott's Marquis Ballroom. Altman had assembled a sharp and well-rehearsed band (with two capable subs: trumpeter Jeff Bunnell for Bijon Watson, drummer Chuck Flores
Chuck Flores
b.1935
for Ralph Razze) for a program that included a number of Rugolo's eloquent compositions and arrangements, opening with "Painted Rhythm" and closing with "Fawncy Meeting You." Sandwiched between were Sy Oliver
Sy Oliver
Sy Oliver
1910 - 1988
arranger
's "Dreaming of You," the Kenton classic "Eager Beaver," "Nancy with the Laughing Face," "Minor Riff," "2/3 Oscar, 1/3 Pete's Blues," "Southern Scandal" and "Artistry in Rhythm." There were classy solos along the way by saxophonists Gene Cipriano
Gene Cipriano
Gene Cipriano

saxophone
and Roger Neumann
Roger Neumann
Roger Neumann
b.1941
sax, tenor
, trumpeters Kye Palmer and Jeff Kaye
Jeff Kaye
b.1951
piano
, pianist Rich Eames and even tubaist Bryant Byers (whose father, Billy Byers
Billy Byers
b.1927
, may have written "Fawncy Meeting You," perhaps for the Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
Orchestra; Bryant said he didn't know).

Films, panel discussions and other presentations were held in the Meridian Room, which is where James Harrod surveyed the history of one of the West Coast's most influential record labels, Pacific Jazz, founded in June 1952 by Dick Bock, Roy Harte and photographer William Claxton. After a five-year run in which the label recorded many of the West Coast's premier artists, from Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
Gerry Mulligan
1927 - 1996
sax, baritone
and Chet Baker
Chet Baker
Chet Baker
1929 - 1988
trumpet
to Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond
Paul Desmond
1924 - 1977
sax, alto
, Gerald Wilson
Gerald Wilson
Gerald Wilson
b.1918
composer/conductor
, Joe Pass
Joe Pass
Joe Pass
1929 - 1994
guitar
, Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
Bob Brookmeyer
1929 - 2011
trombone
, Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
b.1931
trumpet
, Chico Hamilton
Chico Hamilton
Chico Hamilton
1921 - 2013
drums
, Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
1930 - 1956
trumpet
, Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
1925 - 1985
sax, tenor
, Bud Shank
Bud Shank
Bud Shank
1926 - 2009
saxophone
, Jack Montrose
Jack Montrose
b.1928
, Jim Hall
Jim Hall
Jim Hall
1930 - 2013
guitar
and Bill Perkins
Bill Perkins
Bill Perkins
1924 - 2003
saxophone
, Pacific Jazz was purchased in 1957 by Liberty Records, where it continued for another decade or so. Today, the label's jazz catalog is owned by Blue Note Records.

To its credit, the LAJI found a drummer who could sit in comfortably for Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
1920 - 1984
drums
, which made the next concert, "The Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
Ensemble Plays Shelly Manne's The West Coast Sound" more than worthwhile. Erskine's septet was agile, the music delightful, starting with two charts by the inimitable Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman

band/orchestra
, "Grasshoppers" and "Spring Is Here." Shorty Rogers' "Mallets" was, of course, a feature for Erskine, while alto saxophonist Billy Kerr was out front on "Afrodesia." The group also played "La Mucura," Bob Enevoldsen's arrangement of "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me," John Williams
John Williams
John Williams
b.1928
' composition "The King Swings" (from the TV series Checkmate) and a Bill Russo original, "Gazelles." Besides Erskine and Kerr, the admirable soloists were baritone Efford, pianist Campbell, tenor Bob Sheppard and Andy Martin on valve trombone!.


comments powered by Disqus