Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

162

Arizona Jazz Academy: Live at the TCC!

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
One of the pleasures of attending a jazz festival (most of them, anyway) is seeing younger musicians interact with the pros, learning how to work together, to listen, respond and improvise, and helping to reassure us that the future of jazz is in reasonably good hands. Among the bands invited to take part in the Prescott (Arizona) Jazz Summit at the end of August was the "Ellington Band from the four-year-old Arizona Jazz Academy in Tucson, an impressive ensemble that boasted a number of admirable soloists and a firm group dynamic as well.

The Ellington Band is one of a dozen ensembles represented on the AJA's second album, Live at the TCC! (Tucson Convention Center), recorded about a year ago. As with Ellington, the various bands are comprised of high-school age students who rehearse after school and on weekends. The AJA is the brainchild of trombonist Doug Tidaback, who's the glue that holds the organization together. He also directs four of the AJA's nine bands, each of which is named after a prominent leader from the Big Band Era (Ellington, Basie, Herman, Kenton, Goodman, Chick Webb, Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford, Tommy Dorsey/Artie Shaw—but no Glenn Miller). Also performing on the album are the Arizona Women's Jazz Orchestra (conducted by Tidaback) and the High School and Middle School Vocal Jazz Groups (conducted by Crystal Stark). Directing the other bands are Pat Lawrence (Basie, Webb), Mark Phillips (Herman) and Tom Todd (Goodman, Dorsey/Shaw).

Alas, I must report that the Ellington Band is far less impressive on record than it was at the Summit, although I suspect that the murky and poorly balanced recording has much to do with that, as well as the rather odd choice of material (Kenton's "Peanut Vendor, which opens the album, and Bill Mays' "Prelude to the Royal Mongolian Sumo Foosball Festival, which closes it). Something by the Duke himself would perhaps have been more appropriate (and less taxing for Tidaback's young students, who are at times unsteady, especially on "Vendor ). The band has an outstanding soloist in tenor saxophonist Mike Moynihan, but if that's him taking the second solo on "Festival, he's largely wasted in that raucous context.

Among the other groups, the Basie Band ("Imagination, mislabeled "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To ), Lunceford Band ("Children of Sanchez ) and Herman Band ("It Don't Mean a Thing ) leave the strongest impression. But again, that may be the material speaking as loudly as the ensembles. In closing, a few observations: first, the AJA is a marvelous idea, Tidaback deserves a medal for making it come true, and it's wonderful to hear these young musicians playing Jazz and giving it their best shot. Second, try if possible to hear the AJA (or similar groups) live, as there's no way a recording can convey their spirit and energy. Third, should you find yourself anywhere near fledgling ensembles or groups such as these, lend them your support. It is greatly appreciated.


Track Listing: The Peanut Vendor; Symphony in Riffs; Caravan; You

Personnel: The Ellington Band (1, 21); Women

Title: Live at the TCC! | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Academy Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Disappeared Behind the Sun CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by John Sharpe
Published: January 21, 2018
Read 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert CD/LP/Track Review 2018 Neujahrskonzert New Year’s Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Lux CD/LP/Track Review Lux
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 20, 2018
Read Unleashed CD/LP/Track Review Unleashed
by John Sharpe
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "May I Introduce To You" CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "Heavy Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Dance
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Fistfight At The Barndance" CD/LP/Track Review Fistfight At The Barndance
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "Happy Orchestra: Baba" CD/LP/Track Review Happy Orchestra: Baba
by Paul Rauch
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "Lattice" CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Door Girl" CD/LP/Track Review Door Girl
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 23, 2017