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Big Band Report

Did Stan Kenton Swing? You Bet Your Walkin' Shoes He Did...

By Published: November 16, 2012
When it comes to luring big bands to Albuquerque, Manzano High School seems to be the only game in town, thanks to the school's director of Jazz Studies, Brad Dubbs, who keeps throwing his line in the water and reeling them in. Last year it was the Army Jazz Ambassadors who graced Manzano with their presence, and last month it was the Navy Commodores who made Albuquerque the first stop on an extended tour of the Southwest and Southeast with stops in New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina. The Thursday evening concert (October 25) was held in the school gymnasium, which wasn't quite filled but hosted a fairly decent turnout for a service band that is pretty much an unknown quantity to most of those who live in this part of the country. The Commodores didn't let anyone down, displaying their genial temperament and incisive musical skills in a program that opened with Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico
Sammy Nestico
's "Dimensions in Blue" and ended about ninety minutes later with an "Armed Forces Salute" and an eloquent rendition of "America the Beautiful" by the band's vocalist, Casey Elliott. Earlier, she had sung "I Love Being Here with You," "I Just Found Out About Love" and Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
's "So Many Stars."

Also on the program (which, according to emcee / alto saxophonist William Mulligan, changes with every performance) were Frank Rosolino's "Blue Daniel" (featuring the Commodores' jazz trombonist, Jamie Way); a medley of big-band hits from the '30s and '40s; Frank Foster
Frank Foster
Frank Foster
1928 - 2011
's "Blues in Hoss' Flat"; the standard "Just in Time" (featuring flugel Jonathan Barnes and alto Steve Williams
Steve Williams
Steve Williams
); Bob Curnow's arrangement of Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
's "The Gathering Sky" (with superb solos by pianist Dan LaMaestra and guitarist David Malvaso); a Latin charmer, "La Cosa Labria" (I hope I got that right) by the band's senior chief musician / unit leader / tenor saxophonist Phil Burlin (who also soloed with baritone saxophonist Rob Holmes); and last but not least, a spirited rendition of John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" with saxophonists Mulligan and Luis Hernandez doubling on piccolo. The Commodores are one of a number of topnotch service bands, all of whom are battle-tested and ready to deliver a pleasurable performance whenever and wherever they face an audience. Their concert at Manzano High School was no exception to the rule.

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

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