After 15 Years, a "Caravan" Ends Its Journey

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
For nearly fifteen years now, I've been writing two monthly columns here at All About Jazz: this one (Big Band Report) and Big Band Caravan. That is about to change. Starting next month, the two will be pared down to one inclusive column using as its title Big Band Report. So rather than searching the AAJ website each month for two columns, you'll need only look for one, which will encompass both big-band news and reviews. The change is being made for several reasons: convenience (it's easier to find and read one column instead of two); age (I'm seventy-seven and feeling a need to reduce the workload); time (closely related to reason two, as I'd like more of it to do other things); and last but not least, a perceptible decline in the number of new big-band CDs, which makes writing a regular column of reviews such as Big Band Caravan rather dicey, as I've been having to search far and wide for new albums instead of waiting for them to come to me. Combining the columns lessens the need to produce at least five reviews each month, as has been the norm with Caravan. While five would remain the goal, some months may engender four reviews or less depending on how many new CDs have been released. Granted, the change from two columns to one may take some getting used to, but once you've mastered the art of tracking down only one column instead of two, I hope you'll agree that the change is appropriate and worth making.

In Other News...

Now is the time to start planning ahead, as Los Angeles becomes a magnet for big-band talent next May 23-26 when the L.A. Jazz Institute hosts a "Big Band Spectacular" at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel. Recognize any of these names—Bill Holman, Gordon Goodwin, Tom Kubis, Bob Curnow, Roger Neumann, Kim Richmond, Mike Barone, Steve Huffsteter? They'll all be there, along with a number of others who've yet to be announced. This in addition to the usual films, panel discussions and special events. For information, phone 562-200-5477 or go online to www.lajazzinstitute.org

"Dream Band" or Nightmare?

People have asked me from time to time about a "dream band," what musicians I'd choose to comprise the brass, reed and rhythm sections. The short answer is, that's impossible. There have simply been too many outstanding musicians in the history of big-band jazz to narrow the field to less than twenty; even after eliminating the names of those who were best known in other contexts (that is, as soloists or with smaller groups), the sheer number of superlative sidemen (and a handful of women) is staggering. The one issue I could resolve without any ambivalence is that of the drum chair, as to me, no one has ever surpassed Buddy Rich, but even there it's a matter of opinion, nothing more, as the competition is fierce with the likes of Louie Bellson, Chick Webb, Gene Krupa Big Sid Catlett, Jo Jones, Sam Woodyard, Dave Tough, Sonny Payne, Tiny Kahn, Stan Levey, Kenny Clarke, Shelly Manne, Mel Lewis, Frank Capp, Butch Miles, Jeff Hamilton and others making impressive cases. The other chairs are literally up for grabs. Lead trumpet? Take your pick from among hundreds, if not thousands, of high-flying foremen who have presided over big bands through the years. Tenor sax? Well, my main man has always been the incomparable Zoot Sims (a natural-born swinger who could sight-read almost any book), but I wouldn't go so far as to say he's one of the two best tenors who ever graced a big band. There have been too many others. And so it goes with every chair. Choosing a "dream band," as it turns out, is more akin to a nightmare, one that I will happily bequeath to others.

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

New and Noteworthy

1. Michael Treni Big Band, Boy's Night Out (Bell Production Co.)
2. Tall & Small (Pete Christlieb / Linda Small), High on You (Bosco Records)
3. Kris Berg / Metroplexity Big Band, This Time / Last Year (MAMA Records)
4. Budman / Levy Orchestra, From There to Here (OA2 Records)
5. Frank D'Rone, Double Exposure (Whaling City Sound)
6. Steve Taylor Big Band Explosion, Live in London (i2i Music)
7. Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra, Live at Dizzy's
8. Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra, Rampage! (Arbors Jazz)
9. Howard University Jazz Ensemble, Ode to Life (HUJE Jazz)
10. DiMartino / Osland Jazz Orchestra, Quotient (Sea Breeze Jazz)
11. Millennium Jazz Orchestra, Pretty Pumps (MJO)
12. University of Kentucky, Go! The Music of Bob Mintzer (Mark Records)
13. Beats & Pieces, Big Ideas (Efpi Records)
14. Empire Jazz Orchestra, Accentuate the Positive (EJO)
15. Eastern Illinois University, Three O'Clock Downbeat (Self Published)

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus


More Articles

Read Time Check: A Paucity of Riches? Big Band Report Time Check: A Paucity of Riches?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 2, 2016
Read Buddy Rich Rides Again Big Band Report Buddy Rich Rides Again
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 27, 2016
Read Buddy Rich: The Beat Goes On Big Band Report Buddy Rich: The Beat Goes On
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 11, 2014
Read Swingin' on a Riff . . . Hangin' by a Thread? Big Band Report Swingin' on a Riff . . . Hangin' by a Thread?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 14, 2013
Read Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names Big Band Report Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 4, 2013
Read In Tune or Not in Tune... That Is the Question Big Band Report In Tune or Not in Tune... That Is the Question
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 2, 2013
Read "Time Check: A Paucity of Riches?" Big Band Report Time Check: A Paucity of Riches?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 2, 2016
Read "Blue Beatles – Mick Kolassa / Mark Telesca And Organissimo" Bailey's Bundles Blue Beatles – Mick Kolassa / Mark Telesca And...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 25, 2017
Read "John Handy Tribute At SFJAZZ" Live Reviews John Handy Tribute At SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966" My Blue Note Obsession Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
by Marc Davis
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "Richie Buckley With The Scott Flanigan Trio @ The Sunflower, Belfast" Live Reviews Richie Buckley With The Scott Flanigan Trio @ The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Mariza: Music is My Fado" Interview Mariza: Music is My Fado
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Leonard Cohen: You Want it Darker" Extended Analysis Leonard Cohen: You Want it Darker
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 13, 2016

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!