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Big Band Report

Swingin' on a Riff . . . Hangin' by a Thread?

By Published: June 14, 2013
Panel 3, which followed, was moderated by Kirk Silsbee, cross-examining panelists Rovner, Bill Mathieu and Bill Holman
Bill Holman
Bill Holman

band/orchestra
, whose concerts would subsume the evening session. First, however, it was time for another explicit highlight: composer / arranger / saxophonist extraordinaire Tom Kubis and his seventeen-member band, which lit up the stage with the leader's consistently bright and resourceful charts. The ambling "Uptown Blues" (solos by Kubis on tenor sax, trombonist Andy Martin
Andy Martin
Andy Martin
b.1960
, trumpeter Jeff Bunnell) was followed by the more aggressive "Hey Georgia" ("Sweet Georgia Brown"), featuring Rusty Higgins on alto sax and Stan Martin (Andy's brother) on trumpet, and Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone," another sharp arrangement that showcased Rich Bullock's deep-voiced bass trombone. Trumpeter Wayne Bergeron
Wayne Bergeron
Wayne Bergeron

trumpet
was showcased with trombonist Alex Iles and tenor Doug Webb on Kubis's clever "High Clouds and a Good Chance of Wayne," the always amazing Andy Martin on the standard "Alone Together," alto saxophonist Sal Lozano on the frisky "Some of These Days" (on which the trumpets doubled as banjos!), Kubis's friend and longtime guitarist Mike Higgins on Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
piano
's gentle samba, "Triste." Kubis wrapped the package with his high-stepping arrangement of the trad favorite "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home," whose exuberant rhythms enfolded animated solos by everyone in the trombone section. Kubis played not a single number from his latest CD, Live and Unleashed!, and (to his credit) never made a fuss over its release (Crab Apple Records 130301). High marks to drummer Ray Brinker who enlivened the band with his power and enthusiasm. An appetizing prelude to supper.

The Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra, directed by Mathieu, kicked off the evening session with an engaging hour-plus of music mostly written and / or arranged by Bill Russo while he was plying his trade as a trombonist in the Stan Kenton Orchestra (later, he was widely known as Prof. William Russo, director of the Center for New Music at Chicago's Columbia College and composer of music for symphonies and the theatre as well as several operas). With one exception ("Dusk," a third-stream piece), the songs chosen by Mathieu were of the straight-ahead variety including Russo's compositions for trombonist Frank Rosolino
Frank Rosolino
Frank Rosolino
1926 - 1978
trombone
("Frank Speaking") and trumpeter Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
Conte Candoli
1927 - 2001
trumpet
("Portrait of a Count") and the standard "Lover Man," especially arranged for alto saxophonist Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
b.1927
sax, alto
. George McMullen, Bob Summers and Fred Selden sat in for Rosolino, Candoli and Konitz. The concert opened with Harold Arlen's "Over the Rainbow" (Eric Jorgensen, trombone) and continued with another lovely melody, "Autumn in New York," featuring lead trumpeter Ron King. Also heard were "I've Got You Under My Skin" (King, Selden), "Fascinating Rhythm" (Charlie Morillas, trombone, Roger Neumann, tenor sax. Bruce Babad, alto, Doug Webb, tenor), "Sophisticated Lady" (Babad, trumpeter Stan Martin); "You and the Night and the Music" (Babad, bassist Dave Stone); "Shadow Waltz"(McMullen) and "Silhouette," a song written by Mathieu as his "audition piece" for the Kenton Orchestra, featuring Summers' muted trumpet. The session closed, as it should have, with Russo's most widely known composition, "23 Degrees North, 82 Degrees West," admirably played with ripping solos by Babad and trombonist Erik Hughes.


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