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Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival - Woodchopper's Ball: Part 3-4

Simon Pilbrow By

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Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival "Woodchoppers' Ball"
Four Points by Sheraton at LAX
Los Angeles, CA
May 23-27, 2018

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Concert 8: The Herdsmen -Bobby Shew meets Larry McKenna

Trumpeter Bobby Shew is a well- known alumnus of the mid-1960s Woody Herman Herd, and has had a high profile career in jazz as a trumpeter and educator. Tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna, an alumnus of the band from 1959, has had a distinguished career based around his home-town of Philadelphia, where he has long been a much revered player and educator, but he deserves a much higher profile. Although these men had long had a mutual regard for each other's playing, they had not previously played together. Thus, this was a very happy meeting of two exceptional musicians, fronting a quintet with a rhythm section team of Rich Eames, Chris Conner and Paul Kreibich, and playing a delightful concert of timeless, post-bop, small group jazz with a congenial frontline of unison lines and harmonies, sympathetic accompaniment and effortless swing. As soloists, both Shew and McKenna are consistently inventive and lyrical players with highly-developed melodic sensibilities, with which they construct first-class improvised solos. It was an inspired choice of the organizers to pair them on stage for this festival, and much anticipated by those familiar with both men's work. They certainly delivered!

An unnamed first tune with an easy-going melody opened the concert. McKenna led off with characteristically confident but laid-back, fluent tenor lines, and Shew responded in equal measure, with cheerful, flowing bebop lines. Eames played an upbeat piano solo, and Conner produced elegant, clear bass lines, gradually building in intensity, and the two horns traded in conversation with Kreibich's drums for several choruses. Next was Sergio Mendes' "So Many Stars," a medium-tempo Latin tune with a somewhat yearning quality, McKenna taking the melody, accompanied by Shew's lovely trumpet harmonies beneath. The tenor veteran again showed his ability to build beautiful melodies and tell a story, and Shew then played a mellow solo, beginning gently, weaving attractive melodic lines and gradually gaining momentum. Eames piano solo made good use of mid register sonorities and upper register lines, continuing the gentle mood, and Conner played thoughtful, rhythmically Latin-tinged phrases, with superb upper register fluency. "One Morning In May," Hoagy Carmichael's lovely waltz tune, was taken at a faster- than-usual tempo, with clever two-horn interplay on the melody. McKenna's evergreen tenor lines again shone for two marvelous solo choruses, Conner played two athletic bass solo choruses with super intonation, playfully exploring his melodic ideas. Bobby Shew followed with an initially mellifluous trumpet entry, building into fiery bebop, and as his intensity rose, the rhythm section seemed to swing all the harder.

"How About You" by Burton Lane was back at an easy-going tempo, and again showcased McKenna's brilliant solo architecture, well-paced, with flowing melodic lines. Shew followed with beautiful, clean lines, relaxed but exciting. Eames' right hand piano lines danced. Drummer Paul Kreibich took a solo chorus, rhythmically imaginative and probing. They slowed to a ballad tempo for McKenna to take the melody on Rodgers and Hart's "It Might As Well Be Spring," with subtle rhythm section interplay, particularly Rich Eames' sensitive piano accompaniment. McKenna again constructed his exquisite melodic phrases, finding all the right notes in a superb ballad interpretation of this attractive song. Eames played an agreeable piano half-chorus, before Shew reappeared gently playing on the bridge, before the tenor man closed the tune, with Shew's elegant harmonies beneath. The finale was a McKenna original, "You Know It's Me," a hard-bop swinger with unison horn melody. Larry then unleashed a harder-hitting, bigger tenor sound for two choruses, Shew played two feisty, confident, bluesy choruses; Eames seemed to take more risks rhythmically, and reach a higher plane with his playful lines, and Conner gave another bold but easy-going bass solo. Kreibich again took a whole drum solo chorus, before this memorable McKenna tune came back for the final time.

In no way does it detract from Bobby Shew's brilliance or accomplishments to say that McKenna's playing was a revelation, not just to those previously unfamiliar with his playing but for all in the audience. He is a major tenor saxophonist capable of remarkably consistent and inspired melodic invention, and definitely a talent deserving of far wider recognition. It was no surprise that, at the CD stand afterward, McKenna's CDs sold like hot cakes. This man plays wonderful jazz, and at 81, seems to have a great deal of music still to play. One can only hope that many more will discover him.

Panel 2: Woody's Winners -Moderated by Larry Hathaway

Larry Hathaway facilitated a fascinating and insightful panel discussion with five Herman alumni. Trumpeter Bobby Shew described joining Woody in 1965, with the good fortune to be on the much-acclaimed recordings My Kind Of Broadway and Woody's Winners, and staying on band for ten months.

Tenor man Larry McKenna joined the band in 1959, and mentioned the high-calibre trumpet section lineup at that time, including Bill Chase, Paul Fontaine and Don Rader, as well as being alongside lead tenor man Don Lanphere. McKenna evidently stayed only six months on the road with Woody, returning to Philadelphia, where he has remained since, as a player and educator.

Gary Anderson, tenor saxophonist and important Herman arranger in 1973, joined Woody in the early seventies, having waited for an opening on baritone sax (his main instrument), but instead filled a tenor vacancy, remaining in this chair throughout. He mentioned that key players at that time included pianist Andy LaVerne, tenor men Gregory Herbert and Frank Tiberi. He mentioned that Alan Broadbent and Bill Stapleton were the principal arrangers. During his six-year tenure, the band recorded seven albums, including five for the Fantasy label. Anderson wrote some 20-30 charts for Woody's band, including his famed arrangement of Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man." Anderson left Woody in 1978, and spent 25 years writing arrangements on Broadway. Returning to the tenor sax and jazz in 2003, he has not stopped since and continues to play regularly, mentioning a regular gig he plays with trombonist Jimmy Wilkins (now 97, brother of late Ernie Wilkins).

Pianist Alan Broadbent, originally from New Zealand, came to the USA on a Berklee scholarship, studied with Lennie Tristano, and joined Woody in the summer of 1969. He described that he had attempted to write arrangements of tunes of more popular appeal. (It would have been interesting if time had permitted, for Alan to speak about his epic, brilliant arrangement of "Blues In The Night," and his brilliant orchestral composing for the Herman Children Of Lima recording)

Various stories and anecdotes of their times with Woody were described, including the many dance gigs that the band continued to play into the 1970s and beyond, an economic necessity to keep on the road, but not uniformly musically happy occasions. This included discussion of Woody's strategies for dealing with hecklers and the ignorant—his terse words, usually ending in "Pal," which, for Woody, was not a term of endearment. As the years went by, Woody fraternized less frequently with the band, but he remained a major nurturer of young jazz talent, but his exacting standard remained high. It was mentioned that Woody and his wife lived in the house that Humphrey Bogart originally built for Lauren Bacall.

Concert 9: Alan Broadbent (solo piano)

New Zealand born Alan Broadbent has had a distinguished and highly productive career in jazz, as a pianist, spending three years on the road with Woody Herman in his twenties, and, in the decades since, particularly in the piano trio setting, with many, critically-acclaimed trio recordings and Grammy nominations -and as a member of the highly regarded Quartet West with the late Charlie Haden. He has had a distinguished career also as an arranger, establishing his credentials early with Woody Herman, including his outstanding arrangement of "Blues In The Night," and his brilliant orchestrations on the 1973 Woody Herman Children Of Lima recording. His parallel career as orchestral composer/ arranger/ conductor includes collaborations with Natalie Cole, Diana Krall and many others.

Broadbent is a very resourceful pianist with a comprehensive technique: he plays ballads with great sensitivity and swings hard at faster tempos, and is known for his left-right hand independence. On this occasion, Broadbent had been invited to perform as a solo pianist, an intimate and introspective setting, in which he chose to express more of his romantic and reflective side and have a chance to stretch out, without the usual boundaries of trio format.

"Hello, My Lovely," by Charlie Haden began with a pensive, rhapsodic introduction, including a rubato statement of the melody, and then an in-tempo solo exploration of this "Parker Blues"-like structure with nice bluesy inflections. Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are" began with a meandering chorus, in which he teased with fragments of the melody. He went into tempo for a boppy rendition, soloing against left hand bass lines, using the standard Gillespie vamping at beginning and end. "Body And Soul" began with a probing intro, with many right hand flurries of notes and chunky bass register chords. Broadbent continued with a left hand improvised solo with right hand accompaniment followed by a role reversal, and the right hand taking the solo, never straying too far from the melody, throwing out 'anchors' every so often. He returned to the melody with more right hand flurries and ended quietly, ending a thoughtful exploration of Green's beloved tune.

"Lullaby Of The Leaves," by Bernice Petkere, began in tempo, with the melody stated in contrapuntal interplay between left and right hands, with an off-beat swing bridge, and right hand bebop soloing over walking left hand bass lines. "With The Wind And The Rain In Her Hair" started with a moody, chordal introduction with strong left hand runs, although this did seem to bury the melody somewhat. He went into tempo for a restatement of the melody over a jagged bass accompaniment, and his solo continued to reference the melody, with some dazzling double-timing in both hands.

Broadbent went on to play a medley of two Dizzy Gillespie tunes, beginning with the early bebop ballad, "I Waited For You," playing the melody rubato, with romantic flourishes. His solo continued rubato, with echoing of the motifs from the melody throughout and left hand arpeggiation and runs beneath the right hand lines, slowly reducing intensity to then merge with "A Night In Tunisia." This was played at tempo with a conventional bebop right hand solo, initially over a static left hand figure, moving into contrapuntal interplay on the bridge. He played what amounted to a 'shout' chorus before returning to the melody.

The 1930s Count Basie classic, "Lester Leaps In," was performed in tempo throughout, however Broadbent incorporated some wild right hand triplet flourishes and some deliberately wayward left hand lines, which altered the harmonic framework of the piece, perhaps too much—before he returned to a minimalist restatement of the melody. "Reflections in D" by Duke Ellington must surely be one of the Duke's most beautiful ballads, and Broadbent handled all the 'sweet spot' harmonies with great care. On the 'out-chorus' he moved the melody to the left hand with sustained bass notes and more right hand flourishes, which gave it a sweeping, emotionally powerful ending.

John Lewis' "Django" began with a dramatic, Beethovian start, before slotting into a lazy, mid-tempo swing feel, with the right hand dancing over the static left hand notes, then into a walk before breaking into quirky, independent left and right hand interplay. In Lewis' bluesy interlude sections, Broadbent played bluesy right hand figures over strong boogie bass ostinatos, before he continued into the next chorus with bluesy right hand lines over dark lower register chords. The next interlude featured heavy right hand tremolos over his boogie bass ostinatos, before a dramatic Lisztian ending with grand, two-fisted chords, and fading into a rhapsodic coda. This led to rapturous applause, and Broadbent obliged with an encore, choosing David Raksin's "The Bad And The Beautiful." After a lovely rubato intro, the melody rang strongly in his strong right hand chords over left hand arpeggiation, and more extravagant right hand runs, weaving in and out of the melody, and creating more luxuriant piano sounds.

Did it swing? Was it all jazz? Was there any connection to Woody Herman? Does it matter in the end? There was much debate afterward. There is no doubt that Broadbent paints with a broad brush, and that he has extraordinary command of the piano, and has a solid reputation as a swinging trio pianist. However, alone at the piano on this occasion, he used the freedom to express other facets of his musical personality.

Concert 10: The Swinging Sixties -Directed by Michael Berkowitz

Ken Poston introduced this concert, with mention of some of the key musical personalities in the 1960s Woody Herman Herds, including trumpeter Bill Chase, tenor sax virtuoso Sal Nistico, trombonist Phil Wilson, pianist/arranger Nat Pierce and drummer Jake Hanna. Drummer Michael Berkowitz led this exciting band in a re-creation of some of the 1960s Herds' repertoire.

The concert opened with "Mo-Lasses," composed by Count Basie trumpeter Joe Newman, an aggressive bluesy tune. Featured soloists were Roger Neumann, whose raunchy tenor stayed mostly in the upper register; some forceful, full-bodied and punchy trumpet from Jeff Bunnell, and back to the bluesy head, with assertive drumming from Berkowitz. "Jazz Me Blues" (by Tom Delaney, arranged Pierce), a medium-fast swinger, featured muscular tenor from Gary Anderson, confident trombone from John Fedchock, and fluid clarinet from Kim Richmond, before a strong ending from the band.

A change of mood, and Henry Mancini's "The Days Of Wine And Roses," arranged by Nat Pierce, featured alto saxophonist Kim Richmond's passionate statement of the melody. Mark Lewis followed with a dynamic trumpet solo with crescendos and diminuendos, unexpected bursts of notes, particularly in the upper register. After a vigorous ensemble shout chorus, the band hushed to make way for Richmond's alto sax, and some softer, Hodgian phrases.

"Hallelujah Time," a happy, fast, swinging, gospel-like tune, was taken by the reed section, and showcased Gary Anderson and Larry McKenna in an exciting tenor chase with punchy ensemble interjections. The pace slowed right down for "It's a Lonesome Old Town" (by Kisco, Tobias and Van Alstyne), a slow swinging ballad, originally a feature for trombonist Phil Wilson. On this occasion, the spotlight was on John Fedchock, sharing the melody with Richmond's clarinet. Fedchock played a smooth, impeccably pure-toned but emotionally moving trombone solo with a nice cadenza. "That's Where It Is" (by Teddy Castion, arranged Nat Pierce) was a fast-and-swinging gospel-influenced tune, which featured upper register pyrotechnics from trumpeter Ron King, and muscular, big-toned tenor from Gary Anderson, and driving drums from the leader.

Woody Herman had an abiding love and respect for the music of Duke Ellington, and in this concert, Tommy Newsom's arrangement of "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" was performed. Taken at a slow-to-medium tempo, Keith Bishop took the melody on baritone sax, with echoes from Ron Stout's plunger muted trumpet making a nice call- and-response, and the contrast of Kim Richmond's clarinet on the bridge, and the trumpet section snatching the melody for the final "A." A solo chorus was split between Mark Lewis' brilliant harmon-muted trumpet and Fedchock's cheerful trombone. Some punchy ensemble excitement was then followed by quiet brassy backgrounds over Chris Conner's walking bass, a nifty key change, and a return to the baritone sax-and-trumpet conversation between Bishop and Stout.

Sonny Boy (by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, arranged Ralph Burns), was a showcase for the trombone and vocal talents of Scott Whitfield, who sang the Woody vocals on the melody, and followed with a virtuoso trombone solo chorus with some splendid double-timing. Some lively, brassy, ensemble shout choruses and more Whitfield vocals continued the excitement to the end.

Slowing the pace and quieting the mood was the lovely Nat Pierce arrangement of Newley and Bricusse's "Who Can I Turn To," originally recorded on My Kind Of Broadway, which began with Rich Eames' neat piano intro. Kim Richmond's alto sax carried the melody over sensuous reed-and-bone section backgrounds, and then a haunting alto solo. Larry McKenna followed with a superb, lyrical tenor solo, the notes and phrases always landing beautifully in the right places, before the band returned to the melody, handing it back to Richmond's alto for the final melody and a bright cadenza.

The swinging "Sig Ep," by trumpeter Jack Gale, from Woody Herman 1963, its structure based on "Ja-Da," was heard initially with unison reeds, joined by brass interjections, climaxing in a full ensemble. Solos were from Gary Anderson's big- toned, muscular tenor sax, and from Bobby Shew's terrific, bluesy trumpet. Ensemble passages aptly quoted from Sonny Rollins' "Doxy," with Berkowitz's mighty drum work matched by the tight ensemble, returning to the reed melody and a punchy ending.

The 1960's Woody Herman band moved forward in a number of directions. One significant influence on the band was John Coltrane, particularly on the evolving solo styles of the reed players in the band in the decades that followed, and on the incorporation of some of his compositions like "Giant Steps" and "Naima" into the band book. "Dear John C," composed and arranged by Bob Hammer, reflected Coltrane's modal compositional influence. Somewhat patterned on "Impressions" (Coltrane's adaptation of Morton Gould's "Pavanne" to the structure of Miles Davis' "So What"), it began with a driving rhythm section and deep baritone sax bell-tones, and the melody was carried by the reed section in unison initially, harmonized on the bridge. Ron Stout played two choruses of modal trumpet magic, and Gary Anderson followed with two sinewy tenor choruses, with crisp, modal comping from Rich Eames.

Nat Pierce's arrangement of "The Good Life," by Jack Reardon and Sasha Distel, began with a bold start in a two-beat, medium-swing feel, with Richmond's passionate alto sax lead. A solo chorus was split between tenor sax man Larry McKenna's wonderful melodic lines and Mark Lewis' sparkling, harmon-muted trumpet bebop lines, and it finished with a powerful ensemble shout chorus. The concert concluded with Raoul Romero's arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things," also from My Kind Of Broadway. Taken at a fast tempo in four, this magnificent arrangement has weathered very well, maintaining the original excitement, and featured spirited clarinet solo work from Richmond, and a brilliant, virtuoso trombone solo from Scott Whitfield. The final climactic ensemble melody passages, with its cleverly-altered chord changes, brought this fine concert to an exciting end.

Film Session 4: Fanfare for the Common Man -Rare films from the L.A. Jazz Institute Archive

Ken Poston's final chapter of the Woody Herman story on film began with a Jerry Lewis Show appearance by the Herd from 1957, with performances of "Blue Flame" and "Caldonia," featuring tenor man Paul Quinichette and pianist Nat Pierce. "Come Rain Or Come Shine" included Lewis' zany vocals with the band and then in tandem with the Charles Sandford string orchestra.

A 1965 appearance in the Ed Sullivan Show, showed the band in magnificent form, playing the fast and swinging "My Favorite Things," featuring Bill Chase trumpet, Phil Wilson on trombone and Ronnie Zito's driving drums.

A 1966 Vienna performance of Horace Silver's "The Preacher" featured Julian Priester on trombone and Sal Nistico's spirited tenor sax. More Ed Sullivan Show appearances included a 1967 date showcasing Woody on soprano sax, on a fast "Boogaloo," along with Cecil Payne's baritone sax and Zito again on drums. In 1968, the band was shown with Tony Bennett, singing "Get Happy" and "There Will Never Be Another You," and the talents of drummer Ed Soph, baritonist Nick Brignola, pianist John Hicks, and special guest, tenor giant Zoot Sims, were well displayed. A Canadian In The Mood Show, broadcast from 1973, showed Woody along with a pianist Alan Broadbent, guesting with the Guido Basso Orchestra, and playing the Herd's arrangement of "25 or 6 to 4" and "MacArthur Park."

Ken spoke about the increased recruitment by Woody of accomplished students from the ranks of the North Texas State Jazz lab band other top jazz breeding grounds. From a 1977 tour of Poland, Woody's band played Chick Corea's "Spain," beginning with the melody of "Crystal Silence," and featuring Frank Tiberi on bassoon and solos from a youthful Lyle Mays on piano and future tenor star Joe Lovano on tenor sax. Also shown was John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" in Bill Stapleton's marvelous arrangement, with a ferocious tenor duet between Lovano and Tiberi, accompanied only by drums.

In 1979 festival in Nice, France, showed Woody on soprano sax, playing Gary Anderson's arrangement of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man." Also noteworthy were Gary Smulyan on baritone sax and Bob Belden on tenor saxophone. A 1984 Disneyland appearance showed Tiberi, baritonist Mike Brignola, trombonist John Fedchock, trumpeters Mark Lewis and Ron Stout, all of whom featured prominently in this current Woody Herman festival.

Concert 11: One Night Stand: Charlie Barnet vs. Woody With The Herman Battle of the Bands

One Night Stand With The Battle Of The Bands was a re-creation of the famous Rendezvous Ballroom encounter on July 30, 1949, between the Woody Herman and Charlie Barnet bands, recording originally released on LP on the Joyce label. Assembled for this Sunday Brunch feature were two all-star big bands, both ready to reinvent the occasion. There was much banter between the two leaders, Ken Peplowski (fronting the Woody Herman team) and Mike Berkowitz (leading the Charlie Barnet team from the drum chair), with Peplowski often seeming to have the upper hand. The Barnet band won the toss, and launched into their first tune (name not announced) with some bright, energetic work from Bobby Shew, effervescent piano from Brian O'Rourke and feisty ensemble work.

The Herman band fired back with "Lolly Pop," by Shorty Rogers and Terry Gibbs, opening with the vintage vocal duet, this time featuring Peplowski and Scott Whitfield, both of whom seemed to be sight-reading the libretto, with great accuracy and plenty of verve. Soloists included an energetic Keith Bishop on baritone sax and a spirited trombone duet/duel between Whitfield and Jacques Voyemant.

The Barnet band returned with "Eugipelliv," by Paul Villepigue, composer/arranger with the 40s Barnet band, the name being his name spelt backwards. Featuring Latin rhythm and sprightly brass section work, the forward-looking 40's Barnet reed- section sound, with soprano saxophone on top, was prominent, Fred Laurence Selden taking the lead and solo honors.

The Herman band continued with Ellington's "I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good," arranged by Shorty Rogers, and showcasing rising star bassist/vocalist Katie Thiroux on the vocal. Ken Peplowski was magnificent on clarinet, with lovely piano accompaniment and solos from Jim Cox, and more fun clarinet obbligatos framing Thiroux's voice on the out-melody. Manny Albam's "Claude Reigns" was the next Barnet band offering, a fast tune, beginning with a capella brass and continuind with unison reeds on the melody. Pianist Brian O'Rourke was the featured soloist, full of bounce and vitality, playing a fun, quite eccentric solo, with energetic block chording, using all his bag of piano tricks to surprise at every turn.

The Herman band hit a winner with Jimmy Giuffre's beloved "Four Brothers." This featured a stellar reed section, and strong solos from Brian Williams, Keith Bishop, Doug Webb and Roger Neumann, with Peplowski 's soaring clarinet, brilliantly-executed ensemble passages and a tight rhythm section. The Barnet band responded with a contrastingly slow ballad, Tiny Kahn's arrangement of Harold Arlen's "Over The Rainbow," with trumpets taking the main melody, handing it to Fred Selden's thoughtful sopranos sax. There was more theatrical block chording from pianist O'Rourke, some strikingly dissonant brass section sounds, leading back to Selden's soprano sax's final melody. The Herman band responded in kind with another cherished favorite, Ralph Burns "Early Autumn." The gorgeous sax section harmonies of the melody were executed with great care. The alto sax bridge, normally played by Woody tipping his hat to Johnny Hodges, was this time played by alto saxophonist Annie Patterson, who instead gave it much more fire and passion, followed by Jim Cox's reflective piano. Wearing the "Stan Getz mantle,' but in no way imitative, was tenor man Roger Neumann, with a luminous tenor solo and cadenza. The two bands combined for a lively jam session on Cherokee, the epochal Ray Noble tune.

Championed by the Charlie Barnet band in the 1940s in a Billy May arrangement, this tune had early captured the imagination of the innovative young saxophonist, Charlie Parker. The possibilities he saw in the chord progression on its bridge, became an epiphany moment in Parker's musical development and in the evolution of modern jazz, Cherokee ultimately becoming essential bebop syllabus, and a tune which most jazz musicians since have cut their musical teeth. It was a fitting inclusion in the original Herman-Barnet encounter of 1949 for the players to spruik their bebop chops, and a welcome all-in blast at this re-enactment, complete with a double rhythm section, and two pianists playing musical chairs. Peplowski launched with the melody, followed by lyrical bebop trumpet fire from Bobby Shew, fleet trombone trades between Whitfield and Voyemant, vigorous tenor from Dave Moody, trading 'fours' from the Herman trumpet section, with Winston Byrd's stratospheric trumpet being particularly memorable. There followed more of Peplowski's bubbling clarinet, the Herman band saxophone 'brothers,' quirky piano trades from Cox and O'Rourke, a chorus of Alan Kaplan's trombone, a Ron King trumpet solo that seemed to drop in from the sky, a bass chorus of Dave Stone and Katie Thiroux soloing and walking alternately, and a raucous band finale, with nearly thirty horns playing the melody in a ragged unison, and a two-drum battle between Matt Witek and Berkowitz on the bridge. After all had drawn breath, the Barnet band played "Bop City," by Kai Winding, arranged by Manny Albam, which was a fast tour-de-force for the band.

Blaring brass introduced a boppy trombone melody, a fiery ensemble bridge, with nice bone harmonies. Passionate solos followed from Kaplan's trombone, Moody's tenor and Rusty Higgins alto sax, before vigorous ensemble work with fiery drum breaks brought it to its conclusion. The Herman band responded at a similar pace with Shorty Rogers "Boomsie," featuring Peplowski's clarinet and unison reeds, with strong solos from himself, Brian Williams on tenor, Keith Bishop's mighty baritone, Jim Cox's energetic piano, Shorty Rogers, and based on another bebop anthem, Morgan Lewis' "How High The Moon." The combined brass sections played the bebop melody line together, with woodwind backgrounds. This was another chance for the players to show their improvising chops, Doug Webb kicking off with two powerful tenor choruses, followed by trombonists Whitfield and Kaplan, trading with each other across the two bands; some feisty Rusty Higgins alto sax, and more strong bass from Katie Thiroux. Representatives from both trumpet sections traded vigorously—Barnet's Bobby Shew and Ron King versus Herman's Jeff Bunnell and Winston Byrd, the latter's pyrotechnics a standout and seemingly done with great ease. After piano trades between Cox and O'Rourke, the combined ensembles were 'all-in' again for some soaring Peplowski clarinet and drum breaks from the Herman band's Matt Witek and the Barnet band's Berkowitz, and it was all over. This was a fitting finale to a fun, two-band stage battle-of-sorts, and the victors were...well, it's not about winning or losing...it's how you play the game...but it is tempting to say that the Herman band probably had the edge on the day.
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