888

Meet Ladd McIntosh

Craig Jolley By

Sign in to view read count
It's sort of a play on words because I had good times in Mesa, Arizona. Grant Wolf was a jazz educator at Mesa Community College, a two-year school. He'd commissioned the two previous "Suite Mesa's." He was so good students would sign up for a couple of years and end up staying a couple more. He had a series of summer jazz camps (one- or two-weeks long) from about 1972-85, and he hired me for every single one. Clare Fischer, Dick Grove, the great Joe Pass, Gary Foster, and many other pros did some also. He brought his college band up to the festivals in Salt Lake City in the early 1970's. "Taco Tee Shirt," the first movement of "The Last Suite Mesa," has to do with Grant's encounter with a woman with an outrageous message on her T Shirt. There's symbolism, too at the end where it stops and there's this slow trumpet thing played by Fred Forney with lush chords underneath. Fred was a close buddy of Grant, and he took over the program from Grant. It signifies the passing of the torch. "Suite Mesa I" is actually on an album Energy that's still available on Americatone. "Suite Mesa II" is one of the better pieces of music I've done: the melody in the first movement; the melody, the alto solo, and some of those voicings in the second movement; the third movement which is really humorous; the way I bring everything in at the end—I echo what was at the beginning, but I play with it more with the clarinets and orchestration.

Orchestral color

I use a lot of different instrument combinations to create different colors in my writing. Geoff Stradling, my pianist and a former student, was saying he remembers an arranging class where I gave a handout (he still has it) of 800 different ways to come up with color combinations within a big band-combining various mutes, unison trumpet with this, combining flugelhorn with that. The trombones are a choir all by themselves, wonderfully versatile. Kenton had five of them, and there was a reason for that. I love to put the trombones in unison with the baritone and the tenors. The bass trombone and the baritone saxophone—I give them different tasks. The band doesn't sound the same all the time because of the colors. It's going to be even more noticeable on the next CD.

Trombones

Johnny Richards wrote really great for trombones. So did Bill Holman and others who wrote for Kenton. The guys in my trombone section are all wonderful players. Phil Teele's got to be the best bass trombonist in the world. Eric Jorgensen is the most unusual trombone soloist I've ever encountered. He's fearless, and he's in your face. He used to play in circus bands, and sometimes he plays circus music in his solos. Bruce Fowler's solo concept is unlike anybody else I know—he's much more fluid and subdued.

Ladd McIntosh Big Band

I started it in the summer of 1980 as a rehearsal band. We met once a week at Northridge [California State University at Northridge] where I was part-time faculty. I wanted to hear my stuff played by pros. In those days it was easier to find places to play for a big band, and I was driven to get it out there. I was trying to catch somebody's attention and make something happen. Seabreeze did put out two albums. All through the 80's we played a lot, got great write-ups. For about three years we played once a month at a great club in Santa Monica called At My Place. One day when I showed up there was already a line down the street to get in to hear my band. I'd like to do some major jazz festivals. I always wanted to play the Monterey Jazz Festival with my band, but I think they may have looked at me as an educator, not as a professional. It's difficult to find a place to house eighteen musicians. There's a club we could play where you have to put up $500. If they get at least $800 at the door you get your money back plus more, but I'm not willing to do that.

Zanzibar

I had a group in the late 70's called Zanzibar with six woodwinds, two French horns, no brass, strings, a keyboard player who also played synthesizer, Tom Fowler on electric bass, and two percussion. I tried to get as many string players as possible. We gave a couple of concerts with at least 20 strings. My inspiration was Weather Report. It was some of the most exotic stuff I've ever written. I pushed that group for two or three years. I did about 15 charts, and about two or three had the words "space pig" in the title.

Early musical background

Shop

More Articles

Read Arto Lindsay: Watch Out Madames! Interviews Arto Lindsay: Watch Out Madames!
by Enrico Bettinello
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Fred Anderson: On the Run Interviews Fred Anderson: On the Run
by Lazaro Vega
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Dave Holland: Consummate Bassist Interviews Dave Holland: Consummate Bassist
by Lazaro Vega
Published: April 21, 2017
Read Walter Smith III: Jazz Explorer Interviews Walter Smith III: Jazz Explorer
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: April 19, 2017
Read Remembering Art Farmer Interviews Remembering Art Farmer
by Lazaro Vega
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Rudy Van Gelder" Interviews Rudy Van Gelder
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Ethan Margolis: Perfect Mission of Feeling" Interviews Ethan Margolis: Perfect Mission of Feeling
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Lew Tabackin: A Life in Jazz" Interviews Lew Tabackin: A Life in Jazz
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Dominic Miller: From Sting to ECM" Interviews Dominic Miller: From Sting to ECM
by Luca Muchetti
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Ashley Kahn: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece" Interviews Ashley Kahn: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece
by Lazaro Vega
Published: November 30, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!