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Big Band Report

Catching Up

By Published: December 8, 2011
A less familiar but no less important name, especially to jazz trumpeters, is that of Uan Rasey who died September 26, one month after his ninetieth birthday. Rasey didn't play trumpet in any jazz orchestras; instead, he taught others the technique they needed to do so. As for himself, he played first trumpet on many of the great MGM soundtracks from Hollywood's Golden Age: "Singing in the Rain," "An American in Paris," "Gigi," West Side Story," "My Fair Lady," "Cleopatra"—the list goes on and on. Rasey began his Hollywood career playing at Columbia Pictures. He joined MGM in 1949 under a contract that allowed him to play and record at other studios and in other orchestras. Those orchestras were led by such well-known names as Leonard Bernstein, Eric Leinsdorf, John Williams
John Williams
John Williams
, Dmitri Tiomkin, Miklos Rosza, Alfred Newman, Leopold Stokowski, Andre Previn
Andre Previn
Andre Previn
, Billy May
Billy May
Billy May
1916 - 2004
, Nelson Riddle
Nelson Riddle
1921 - 1985
, Zubin Mehta, Felix Slatkin, Johnny Green and Lennie Hayton
Lennie Hayton
, to name a few. As a teacher, he welcomed students from all over the world, including jazz musicians such as Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval
and Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
Jack Sheldon
. Rasey was a musician's musician, one who will be missed by many who benefited from his proficiency and knowledge.

William (Bill) Lee, a composer, arranger, author and educator who pioneered comprehensive music education, including jazz, at the University of Miami, died October 23 at age eighty-two. Lee was dean of UM's School of Music from 1964-82, served as the school's provost and vice-president before retiring in 1989, and was a past president and executive director of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE).

As this was being written, word came of the passing of another musical giant, the renowned Hollywood composer / arranger and big-band leader Russell Garcia
Russell Garcia
Russell Garcia
1916 - 2011
, at age ninety-five. We'll have more to say about that in our next column.

Coming Events

The Monterey Jazz Festival is accepting applications for its eighth annual Next Generation Jazz Festival to be held next March 30-April 1, 2012. Finalists are chosen through recorded auditions reviewed and ranked by faculty from the Berklee School of Music. The top big bands, combos and vocal ensembles win cash awards and are invited to perform at the fifty-fifth annual Monterey Jazz Festival, September 21-23, 2012. In addition to the high school, college, conglomerate, open combo and middle school divisions, auditions will be held for chairs in the festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, which performs an annual summer tour and is featured on the Monterey Festival's Sunday afternoon Arena / Jimmy Lyons Stage. Application forms may be downloaded at the Monterey Jazz Festival's web site, The application process is free of charge.

Lastly, Betty and I plan to be in Louisville, KY, in early January to attend the third annual conference of IAJE's successor, the Jazz Education Network (JEN). We'll have a full report in February.

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

New and Noteworthy

1. John MacLeod Rex Hotel Orchestra, Our First Set (no label)

2. Sammy Nestico / SWR Big Band, Fun Time and More Live (Haenssler)

3. Rodger Fox's Wellington Jazz Orchestra, Journey Home (Tbone)

4. Cecilia Coleman Big Band, Oh Boy! (Interplay)

5. Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Legacy (Mack Avenue)

6. Sandvika Storband, A Novel Approach (Sandvika Storband)

7. Dietrich Koch Big Band, Berlin Cookbook (Mons)

8. Howard University Jazz Ensemble, Moonwalk (HUJE Jazz)

9. Dave Grusin, An Evening with Dave Grusin (Heads Up)

10. Tim Davies Big Band, Dialmentia (Origin)

11. Mt. Hood Jazz Band & Combos, Gan Bei (Sea Breeze Vista)

12. Joakim Milder, Takeaway (Apart Records)

13. Marine Corps All-Star Jazz Band, Play with Honor (USMC Jazz)

14. Tromso Big Band, In Traffic (Turnleft)

15. University of the Arts School of Music, Big Band (Self Published)

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