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A Big Band Spectacular? You Bet Your Brass!

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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 ...

Jack's Gone! No He Isn't; Yes He Is; No He Isn't...!

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As I sat down to write this month's column, word came that trumpeter Jack Sheldon had died. No sooner had I written a few words about that when word came that trumpeter Jack Sheldon had not died. After some back-and-forth on the internet (is he or isn't he?), the last report, it seems, was the true ...

ARTICLE: BIG BAND REPORT

Tops in '10: The Best Big Band Albums of the Year

Read "Tops in '10: The Best Big Band Albums of the Year" reviewed by Jack Bowers

The holiday season is upon us, which means it's a perfect time to name my choices for the best big band albums of 2010. Looking back, this was a better year for large ensembles than memory envisaged, and narrowing the list of candidates to 10 wasn't as easy as I thought it might be. Nevertheless, the ...

Phil Woods / Stan Kenton / The Les Hooper Band

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Phil Woods / DePaul University Jazz Ensemble
Solitude
Jazzed Media
2010

Not to underplay the title, but Solitude, from alto saxophone master Phil Woods and the splendid DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, embodies far more than the sort of serenity it implies. In fact, Woods is as animated and ...

"A Swingin' Affair" Outshines Its Name

Read ""A Swingin' Affair" Outshines Its Name" reviewed by Jack Bowers

With an appreciative bow and genial tip of the hat to the late Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra, the Los Angeles Jazz Institute named its semi-annual big-band soiree May 21-24 at the Sheraton LAX Four Points Hotel “A Swingin' Affair." Was the event able to live up to its name? In the immortal words of ...

ARTICLE: BIG BAND REPORT

Louie Bellson: Tasteful Drummer, Sweeter Guy

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To say that drummer extraordinaire Louie Bellson, who left us on February 14, 2009 at age eighty-four, had a remarkable career would be to explicitly understate the record. Bellson's success at age 17 in a nationwide contest sponsored by one of his idols, Gene Krupa, and Slingerland Drums set the talented wunderkind on a path that ...

ARTICLE: BIG BAND REPORT

The Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra Gets "Thrasched"

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The thirty-third annual Albuquerque Jazz Festival ended its two-day run on February 21, 2009. The event is devoted mainly to performances by high school and middle school bands, while the grand finale features the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra with invited guests, this year the saxophone quartet Thrascher (Randy Hamm, soprano; Tim Ishii, alto; Ed Petersen, tenor; Glenn ...

Vaughn Wiester / Doncaster Jazz Orchestra / Kluvers Big Band / Mike Holober & the Gotham Jazz Orchestra

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Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra
Dreams Come True
COJazz
2009

If you're going to dream, you may as well dream big, in glorious Technicolor with stereophonic sound. As Vaughn Wiester knows, there are times when Dreams Come True. Wiester's vision of leading his own big band is a ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

The Les Hooper Band: Out of the Woods

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On “New Suit for Zoot" (aka “Tickletoe"), the latest edition of Les Hooper's southern California-based big band kicks the accelerator and really burns rubber. Unfortunately, that's one of the few high spots in an otherwise curiously lackluster album that seems to be aimed for the most part at what's left of the commercial jazz market.

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

The Les Hooper Big Band: Look What They've Done / Dorian Blue / Raisin' the Roof / Anything Goes

Read "Look What They've Done / Dorian Blue / Raisin' the Roof / Anything Goes" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Here’s an unexpected but no less welcome windfall for big–band lovers. Composer / arranger / pianist Les Hooper has reissued four of his superb albums from the ’70s and ’80s on compact disc, the first two featuring his excellent Chicago–based group, the others an all–star West Coast ensemble. If you appreciate a big band that swings ...