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Jazz Festival Puts Wigan (Almost) on the Map

Jack Bowers By

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There’s not much to write about this month but I must let you know about the Wigan International Jazz Festival, which keeps getting bigger and better with each passing year. Wigan, which as near as I can figure is somewhere in the neighborhood of Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester or perhaps all three in Merrie Olde England, is home to the excellent Wigan Jazz Club Big Band directed by Ian Darrington. The Festival dates are July 9-18, and on July 10 the Wigan JCBB will be backing American saxophone star Phil Woods.

Other bands scheduled to appear are the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and Sounds 2000 Big Band (July 15), the Wigan Schools Swing Band and Wigan Youth Big Band (July 10), the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra (July 11), the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra with Eric Delaney (July 14) and the Wigan Schools Samba Band (July 16). Other headliners are the Dave Brubeck Quartet (July 17, 18), the Karrin Allyson Quartet (July 11), Scott Hamilton with the Vinnie Parker Trio (July 12), the Jimmy Smith Quintet (July 12), the Lynne Arriale Trio (July 13), the Anita Wardell and Lewis Wright Quartets (July 14), Tommy Whittle (July 15), Danny Moss and Jeannie Lamb (July 16) and the Johnny Griffin Quartet (July 16).

I’ve not been to Wigan (never been to Great Britain, alas) but fellow big-band enthusiast Larry Routt from Cincinnati has been to Wigan on at least two occasions, perhaps more, and has returned home with glowing reports. If you’d care to follow up, there’s a web site, www.wiganjazz.net, and an e-mail address, tic@wlct.org. The Wigan Tourist Information Centre’s phone number is 01942 825677.

Happy Birthday, Louie!

July 6 marks the 80th birthday of drummer Louie Bellson, described by Duke Ellington as “not only the world’s greatest drummer but also one of the world’s greatest musicians,” and by Oscar Peterson as “one of the musical giants of our age.” Louie’s career really started in 1941 when, as a seventeen-year-old, he won the Gene Krupa Drum Contest and began touring with Benny Goodman’s sextet. Bellson, a four-time Grammy nominee, has written more than 1,000 pieces including “Skin Deep” and “The Hawk Talks,” and has been named an American Jazz Master by the National Education Association. Louie has recorded many big-band albums, not only with the Ellington orchestra but as leader of his own ensembles, recording for DRG, Music Masters, Telarc, Pablo and especially Concord Jazz. Louie has been playing for more than six decades and shows no sign of slowing down. Happy Birthday, Louie! Here’s to many more.

In August, the Jazz world will be observing the 100th anniversary of the birth of the irrepressible Kid from Red Bank, William “Count” Basie. More about that later. For now, keep swingin’!

New and Noteworthy

1. Peter Brem Big Band, Natural Connections (Music Mecca)
2. Phil Norman Tentet, Wide Range (Concord)
3. Doncaster Jazz Orchestra, Discover the Spirit (DJO)
4. University of Miami Concert Jazz Band, Romances (Summit)
5. Rob McConnell Tentet, Music of the Twenties (Justin Time)
6. Riverside Community College, Upside Out (Sea Breeze Vista)
7. Don Scaletta and the Jazz Project, Salutes Stan Kenton (Ars Nova)
8. National Youth Jazz Orchestra, Jazz in Film (Silva Screen)
9. Klüvers Big Band, Reflections (Music Mecca)
10. Mark Masters Jazz Ensemble, One Day with Lee (Capri)
11. University of Colorado, ‘Round Midnight (UCJE)
12. University of North Texas One O’Clock Band, Lab 2003 (NT Jazz)
13. Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra, Get Well Soon (Challenge)
14. University of North Florida, Through His Eyes (UNF)
15. George Gee Orchestra, Swingin’ at Swing City Zurich (Zort Music)


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