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ARTICLE: CATCHING UP WITH

Gary Urwin: Inside the Mind of an Arranger

Read "Gary Urwin: Inside the Mind of an Arranger" reviewed by Rob Wood

The arranger of music scores is as important as a crankshaft in an engine. Yet many are destined to live in the shadows. Ralph Carmichael was subsumed by the luster of Stan Kenton. Arranger Paul Riser, who wrote the opening bars to “Dancing in the Street," is a virtual unknown.

And then there is ...

A Big Band Spectacular? You Bet Your Brass!

Read "A Big Band Spectacular? You Bet Your Brass!" reviewed by Jack Bowers

On May 23, Betty and I flew to jny: Los Angeles to attend the L.A. Jazz Institute's semi-annual ode to swinging, this one labeled Big Band Spectacular and slated for Thursday through Sunday, May 25-28. We rearranged our schedule to arrive a day early, even before Wednesday's “bonus" event, to attend the funeral of a longtime ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

The Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra: A Beautiful Friendship

Read "A Beautiful Friendship" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Sometimes, just when it seems things couldn't possibly get any better, they do. That is certainly the case with A Beautiful Friendship, the spectacular new recording by arranger Gary Urwin's superlative southern California-based Jazz Orchestra. Having released three earlier albums showcasing the exceptional artistry of tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb and / or trombonist Bill Watrous, Urwin ...

ARTICLE: BIG BAND REPORT

Swingin' on a Riff . . . Hangin' by a Thread?

Read "Swingin' on a Riff . . . Hangin' by a Thread?" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Betty and I returned to Albuquerque on Memorial Day after attending Swingin' on a Riff, the latest in a series of marvelous semi-annual events presented by Ken Poston and the Los Angeles Jazz Institute for more than twenty years at venues in and around L.A. This one was held May 23-26 at the Los Angeles Marriott ...

Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names

Read "Pointing Fingers... And Naming Names" reviewed by Jack Bowers

As the countdown continues toward the last Big Band Report in June, the time has come to point fingers and name names--in other words, to compile a short list of contemporary jazz musicians who have risen above the norm to help make life more pleasurable for one devoted listener. These are, mind you, personal choices, and ...

ARTICLE: BIG BAND REPORT

In Tune or Not in Tune... That Is the Question

Read "In Tune or Not in Tune... That Is the Question" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Suppose a month goes by, you have a column to publish, but nothing has happened that's worth writing about. What do you do then? Read on, as the question is about to be answered.

A while back there was a discussion at a Stan Kenton web site (Kentonia) about musicians or groups of ...

The "Desert Island" Revisited

Read "The "Desert Island" Revisited" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Back in the last millennium, shortly after this column first saw the light of day, I posted a list of twenty “desert island" albums, those that would be snugly ensconced in a crash-proof, water-tight carrying case should yours truly ever be marooned on a miniature atoll with nothing to relieve the boredom save palm trees, coconuts, ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Portland Jazz Orchestra: Nor'easter

Read "Nor'easter" reviewed by Nicholas F. Mondello

Although the era of the gig-to-gig road-traveling big band is defunct, save for a few ghost bands, fine regional big bands continue to thrive around the United States. From Los Angeles, killer bands such as Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band and Tom Kubis's and Gary Urwin's respective ensembles, to the East Coast where groups such as ...

ARTICLE: BIG BAND REPORT

Strike Up the (Unsung) Bands

Read "Strike Up  the (Unsung) Bands" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The big band era is known for producing a number of enormously successful ensembles whose leaders were household names: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Fletcher Henderson, then on through Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, the brothers Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet, Artie Shaw, Harry James, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie and, ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra: Kindred Spirits

Read "Kindred Spirits" reviewed by Todd S. Jenkins

The liner notes tout this band as “a veritable who's who among the Los Angeles area's most accomplished studio and big-band artists." That's quite true, which is precisely why Kindred Spirits falls a bit flat. It shares much of its personnel with most every other white big band project in Southern California, which makes it essentially ...