Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


DJO: Thirty Years and Counting

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
I was reminded recently that the Dallas Jazz Orchestra is now more than thirty years old (which I should have known after reviewing its latest album, The Big 3-0, recorded in 2004). That's a long time for any big band to stay together, and would have been true even the in so-called Big Band Era, when no more than a handful of ensembles managed to do so. It's even more remarkable in a country in which bands aren't subsidized, as they are in a number of countries overseas (an enlightened concept that has somehow never caught on in the States, although we do have our armed services bands).

Much of the reason for the DJO's longevity can be traced to the know-how and tenacity of Galen Jeter who formed the band in the mid-'70s and has kept it running ever since. Jeter, a trumpeter who was educated at the University of North Texas and played with the Woody Herman Orchestra, among others, moved to Dallas in the late '60s and was employed as a high-school teacher in nearby Garland. Looking for ways to keep the big-band spirit alive in his area, Jeter called on local musicians to help form a group, and the first rehearsals were held at the SMU band hall in 1973. Shortly afterward the band was off and flying, and has never looked back. For the past twelve years the DJO has had a regular weekly gig at the Village Country Club in Dallas.

As the band's reputation grew, top-notch players from across the country were drawn into its orbit including saxophonists John Park and Allan Beutler from the Stan Kenton Orchestra and Bill Tillman from Blood, Sweat and Tears. Another key to the band's success is consistency. Players tend to remain with the DJO for many years. Baritone Beutler has been a member for 26 years, trumpeter Chuck Willis 21, guitarist Kim Platko 18, trumpeter Steve Rudig 15, trombonist Dave Bowman 12. That's a lot of mileage.

It wouldn't have been possible, of course, had the DJO not kept a busy schedule, which it has, appearing frequently in the Dallas area as well as backing such well-known artists as Steve Allen, the Four Freshmen, Mel Tormé, Joe Williams and Doc Severinsen and performing at many Jazz festivals at home and overseas. The DJO has recorded eleven albums, some of which may be out of print. Besides The Big 3-0 (JazzMark 119), those in my library include Scrapbook (JazzMark 116), Turnin' Twenty (JazzMark 113), Thank You, Leon (Sea Breeze 2041) and Romeo and Juliet (no label).

Leon is a tribute to Leon Breeden, a longtime director of the Jazz Studies program at North Texas, while Turnin' Twenty marks the band's twentieth anniversary in 1994 and Scrapbook, a retrospective, is subtitled "The Best of the First 25 Years. Thirty years, as we said, is a remarkable achievement for any big band, especially in today's musically retarded environment. Way to go, DJO! May you have many more anniversaries!

Speaking of Anniversaries . . .

The great Oscar Peterson celebrated his eightieth birthday on August 15, and a party was held at the HMV flagship store in Toronto where Canada Post, the country's postal service, unveiled a commemorative Peterson fifty-cent stamp, marking the first time a living Canadian has been so honored for personal achievements. The stamp blends two sepia photographs, one of Oscar leaning against the top of a piano, the other an overhead shot of his hands on the keyboard. Such an honor, Peterson said, is "beyond my wildest dreams. Also honoring Oscar was fellow Verve recording artist Diana Krall, a longtime fan who first saw him perform in Vancouver when she was a sixteen-year-old high-school student.

As the party was winding down, Peterson, who suffered a stroke in 1993 and has been slowed since by arthritis, said he'd like to play a new composition of his own, "Requiem, dedicated to such legends of Jazz as Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker as well as to his longtime band mate, bassist Ray Brown, who died last year. It was a fitting climax to a well-deserved celebration of Peterson's life and extraordinary talent.

And Speaking of Honors . . .

Vic Hall was honored October 8 during a concert at the University of South Florida in Tampa for his more than thirty-seven years as a Jazz broadcaster at radio station WUSF-FM, a position from which he recently retired. The concert was part of a Jazz Masterworks series with Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge Orchestra with guest conductor Slide Hampton. The second half of the concert was devoted to Hampton's compositions and arrangements.

Before leaving USF, don't forget that the university will host a Jazz Composers' Symposium next March 9-11 with guest composers Bob Brookmeyer, John Clayton and Dave Douglas. For information, contact Dave Stamps, USF Center for Jazz Composition, 4202 East Fowler Avenue, FAH 110, Tampa, FL 33620, phone 813-974-4285, or e-mail dstamps@arts.usf.edu

And one last reminder, that the 2006 North Texas Jazz Festival will be held March 31-April 2 at the Hotel Inter-Continental in Addison (just north of Dallas). For information, go to www.addisontexas.net or phone 1-800-ADDISON.

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

New and Noteworthy

  1. John La Barbera Big Band, Fantazm (Jazz Compass)
  2. Drake University Jazz Ensemble, Late Night at the Mainstay (DUJE)
  3. Gerald Wilson Orchestra, In My Time (Mack Avenue)
  4. Danny D'Imperio, Big Band Bloviation, Vol 2 (Rompin' Records)
  5. Buddy Charles Concert Jazz Orchestra, We're Here (Jazzed Media)
  6. Michael Pagán Big Band, Pag's Groove (Capri)
  7. NYJO Featuring Atila the Killer Diller, Something Old, Something New (NYJ)
  8. Howard Williams Big Band, Live at the Garage (HW Records)
  9. Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, Sketches of Spain (MSM)
  10. Don Menza Big Band, Menza Lines (Jazzed Media)
  11. Norrbotten Big Band / Jonas Kullhammar, Snake City North (Moserobie)
  12. Mt. Hood Community College, Super Blue (Sea Breeze Vista)
  13. Tony Gairo / Gary Rismiller Jazz Orchestra, Treacherous (Sea Breeze)
  14. Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, Sailing (Dragon)
  15. Cal State Sacramento Latin Jazz Ensemble, Con Sentimiento (CSUS)


comments powered by Disqus

Big Band Report
Read more articles
The Dallas Jazz...
Narada Publishing, Inc.
Turnin' Twenty
Narada Publishing, Inc.
Morning Glory
Narada Publishing, Inc.
Super Chicken
Narada Publishing, Inc.
Fat Momma's Revenge
Narada Publishing, Inc.

More Articles

Read Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival "Big Band Spectacular" 2017, Part 1-4 Big Band Report Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival "Big Band...
by Simon Pilbrow
Published: July 18, 2017
Read A Big Band Spectacular? You Bet Your Brass! Big Band Report A Big Band Spectacular? You Bet Your Brass!
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 5, 2017
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 "Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival "Big Band Spectacular" 2017, Part 1-4" Big Band Report Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival "Big Band...
by Simon Pilbrow
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "A Big Band Spectacular? You Bet Your Brass!" Big Band Report A Big Band Spectacular? You Bet Your Brass!
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club" Live Reviews CEO Experiment With Kurt Rosenwinkel at The Sugar Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 11, 2017
Read "Green Mountain Jazz" Multiple Reviews Green Mountain Jazz
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Ostrava Days 2017" Live Reviews Ostrava Days 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Anat Cohen's Brazilian Bonanza: Outra Coisa and Rosa Dos Ventos" Multiple Reviews Anat Cohen's Brazilian Bonanza: Outra Coisa and Rosa...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 17, 2017