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Here's more conclusive evidence, if any were needed, that jazz is no longer solely a man's game. The Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra joins the burgeoning ranks of all-female big bands that include DIVA, Maiden Voyage, Germany's United Women's Orchestra, Japan's Blue Aeronauts and ensembles led by Chrissy Lee and Kit McClure with an auspicious debut album that proves there's much more than redwoods, rain and remarkably handsome scenery in the Pacific Northwest.
In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that SWOJO isn't entirely comprised of womenScott Fry is the drummer, Dennis Haldane plays lead trumpet on eight of the album's eleven tracks, and music director/trumpeter Daniel Barry is a guest soloist on his rhythmically evocative composition, "Two to Tango." Barry, who has helped guide the orchestra since its inception some four years ago, also wrote "The Hiding Place," "Nisqually Riff" and the album's perky signature song, "Dreamcatcher."
Those exceptions aside, what we have is sophisticated big band jazz expertly performed by members of the fairer sex who presumably hadn't been told they're unable to do that. Any such reservations are quickly erased as the orchestra easily nails Johnny Griffin's loping "63rd Street Theme," neatly scored by Al Farlow and featuring trumpeter Angela Smith and guest tenor Sue Orfield (who reappears on "Nisqually Riff," "Dreamcatcher" and Kim Richmond's shuffling "Big Mama Louise"). Trombonists Carolyn Caster and Mariah Ralston are splendid on Chico O'Farrill's "Pure Emoción," as are alto Lisa Gordanier ("Hiding Place"), trumpeters Angela Smith ("Mama Louise") and Shelly Devlin ("The Peanut Vendor"), tenor Sheryl Clark ("A Foggy Day"), vibraphonist Susan Pascal ("Nisqually Riff") and pianist Ann Reynolds ("Hiding Place," "Peanut Vendor," "Tango," "Dreamcatcher"). Guest vocalist Greta Matassa is no laggard either, as she affirms on lively renditions of "Fly Me to the Moon" and Bobby Darin's "As Long as I'm Singing."
The album was recorded from February-August '03 at four venues, including an appearance at the XIII Festival Jazz in Lima, Peru (track 10). Five tracks (1-4, 11) were taped in a studio, the others at the Tacoma Jazz Festival or Seattle's Jazz Alley. In every case, SWOJO is squarely on top of its game, carefully burnishing every chart to lay bare its inherent radiance and charm. If the orchestra isn't quite as muscular as many of its male counterparts, time and seasoning should serve to redress that trifling flaw. As Dreamcatcher suggests, SWOJO is a remarkably impressive ensemble, one whose energy and talent assuredly point toward a bright and productive future.
Track Listing: 63rd St. Theme, The Hiding Place, Pura Emocion, Big Mama Louise, Fly Me to the Moon, Nisqually Riff, As Long As 'm Singing, Peanut Vendor, A Foggy Day, Two to tango, Dreamcatcher
Personnel: Reeds--Lisa Gordanier, Barbara Hubers-Drake, Sheryl Clark, Linnea Cookson, Ann Babb; Trombones--Carolyn Caster, Mariah Ralston, Cynthia McGowan, Kellyn Haley; trumpets--Densie Cline, Dennis Haldane, Marge Rosen, Shelly Devlin, Angela Smith, Sarah Nelsonamanda Marquis, Donna Plotz, Anja Parks; piano--Ann Reynolds; bass--Ellen Finn; drums--Scott Fry; conch shell--Kellyn Haley, Mariah Ralston, Daniel Berry; Guests--Sue Orfield--tenor saxophone (1,4,6,11); Greta Matassa-vocals (5 & 7); Susan Pascal--vibraphone (6 & 7); Daniel Berry--trumpet (10)
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock. It was love at first sight . This was when Blues, Soul / Gospel Style Music was becoming popular amongst kids as well as hip adults and featured Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner and The Payola era DJ's such as Alan Freed. Not many people remember that Freed's Rock n Roll Band of the 1950's was The Count Basie Orchestra featuring the Guy Singer Tony Bennett (Anthony DiBenedetto) who grew up in Astoria, NYNY right next to my Home Town Jackson Heights NYNY.
I was first exposed to jazz when I heard Red Prysock, Sam The Man Taylor & groups like the Chord Cats recording of Shaboom! It made the Crew Cuts look LAME! Now Jazz, Blues, Soul, Gospel was pretty much joined at the hip back then and I learned that the tasteful Music was featured on The African American Radio Stations which led me to DJ's Like The Bruce, Jocko Henderson, Tommy Dr. Jive Smalls and eventually Symphony Sid Torin, China Valles and Len Pace. This all took place during my high school years and the following years in NYNY and South Florida. I actually flew to Copenhagen Denmark in 1961 to see Stan Getz, (One of my top 3 heroes in the Music Bird, Pres & Getz not necessarily in that order). Sadly Getz had already left town and snuck back into NYNY where he played Birdland (Undoubtedly without a cabaret card due to smack addiction.) No problem for me as I worked for Pan American Airways at the time and enjoyed a 90% Employee Discount.
I met Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lenny Tristano, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Frank Foster, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among many others over the years.
The best show I ever attended was The Randall's Island Jazz Festival NYNY 1960. Monk & Edward Ellington Kennedy AKA Duke, starred among numerous others. I can not recall the entire Line Up but Monk brought along his Hat Collection which at the time contained I believe he told me 33 or 35 international Hats which he periodically changed often during his Solos. I have been unable to find that roster for that particular festival and since it was long ago I remember mostly Monk & Duke. Paul Gonsalvas played his legendary trademark twenty something chorus solo in between Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue which was outstanding.
The first jazz record I bought was Firstly, my Bro George was / is a Marine and he sent home his wax collection of LP's from Camp Pendleton CA before deploying to Okinawa in 1956 I think. Bird, Getz, Mulligan & Baker, Erroll Garner, Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Jazz at Newport 1956 and many more. I fell in love with Bird, Getz and Jeru & Chet for openers. Pres to my mind takes the all time Tenor Award and Budo, Piano etc.! However I digress Getz Long Island Sound and every other Getz record that I could find that was 1957 by then and I snuck in to Birdland for the First of many times before I was 18 ( Legal drinking age back then) It wasn't until just after my 18th Birthday that I was carded much to the bouncers chagrin as he recognized me as having being an established customer by then.
My advice to new listeners: Listen to the Music and keep it in the forefront not the background. A Local Band Leader whose name escapes me once said to me Jerry you can make time for the chicks later the Music is in the now and is more important than chicks ever will be. He was correct!
Next see live performances and introduce yourself to the Players most of whom will be respectful. Some, however, are unapproachable such as when I saw Miles so many times but his obvious disdain for certain fans was evident and he always walked off the stage after soloing. (Eddie Jefferson sang words to So What that so indicated this)!