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Galen Jeter and Dallas' Original Jazz Orchestra: Big 30

Jack Bowers By

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The title of the Dallas Jazz Orchestra's latest album, properly pronounced Big Three-Oh, denotes the thirtieth anniversary of this remarkable big band from deep in the heart of Texas. And what better way to celebrate than by doing what DOJO does best—creating wonderful big-band jazz en masse and swinging like there's no tomorrow.

For three decades, lead trumpeter Galen Jeter has held the band together with duct tape and prayer, and anyone who has heard them must surely believe, as I do, that he has earned whatever medal is appropriate for service to music above and beyond the call. Members of the band also deserve a round of applause for hanging in there, especially baritone saxophonist Allan Beutler (26 years), trumpeter Chuck Willis (21), guitarist Kim Platko (18), trumpeter Steve Rudig (15) and trombonist Dave Bowman (12). That's the kind of dedication and consistency that can help turn a fairly decent band into something special, as it has with DOJO.

Speaking of something special, there's the music itself, an assiduous combination of originals (nine) and standards (four), including two classics by Dizzy Gillespie ("The Champ, "A Night in Tunisia ) and a pair of seldom-played gems by the late Raul Romero, "Baile Indio and "Tristesse. There's one "theme piece, Bowman's poignant "Goliad, written to depict "the anguish, sorrow and solemn pride of 412 soldiers massacred in that Texas town in 1836 by Mexican general Santa Anna's army. The loosy-goosy "Big Three-Oh was composed and arranged by Bob Biegler, the rumbling "North Central Expressway by Willis (who solos with tenor Jonathan Beckett), the sensuous "Fallen Angels (vaguely reminiscent of the standard "If I Should Lose You ) by Paul Baker.

Bowman is showcased on "This Is Always and Tommy Newsom's clever arrangement of the well-known aria from Villa Lobos' "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, Beutler on "Fallen Angels, Platko on "Alone Together, Platko and Willis on "Baile Indio, Beckett on "The Thrill Is Gone, soprano Paul Nagy on "Goliad. Each of them is impressive, as are trumpeters Jeter and Jeremy Sinclair, trombonists Curtis Fox and John Allen, alto Aaron Irwinsky, tenor Bill Eden, pianist Richard Powell and the hard-working rhythm section, anchored by drummer Warren Dewey.

While it may seem like only yesterday that I was listening to and reviewing the ensemble's album Turnin' Twenty, reason tells me it must have been longer ago than that. DOJO has only gotten better since then, and I'm already looking forward to savoring whatever pleasures may be in store when it reaches the "Big Four-Oh —by which time, with any luck, I'll have reached the "Big Eight-Oh. Nothing beats growing old with DOJO.


Track Listing: Alone Together; Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5; Autumn Leaves; North Central Expressway

Personnel: Galen Jeter, leader, trumpet; Steve Rudig, Kerry Adams, Chuck Willis, Jeremy Sinclair, trumpet; Stu Melis, Paul Nagy, alto sax, flute; Jonathan Beckett, Bill Eden, tenor sax, flute; Allan Beutler, baritone sax; David Bowman, Curtis Fox, Jon Hinton, John Allen, Brandon Moody, trombone; Richard Powell, piano; Kim Platko, guitar; Jeremy Hull, bass; Warren Dewey, drums, percussion; Kenny

Title: Big 30 | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: JazzMark

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