I received a phone call in late December from Buddy Charles to wish me a happy New Year and let me know that the Buddy Charles Jazz Orchestra would be performing at the next Ken Poston-L.A. Jazz Institute extravaganza, Encores in Big Band Jazz,
May 25-28 at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Los Angeles. I got in touch with Graham Carter at Jazzed Media Records who said he hoped to tape Buddy's band during the event for a new CD whose title would be We're Back
(as you may recall, the Charles Orchestra's widely acclaimed first album, We're Here . . .
, was released by Jazzed Media last year). Carter will also be recording the Bill Holman Band during the soiree in L.A,
which celebrates the legacies of Stan Kenton and Woody Herman.
The Charles Orchestra further amplifies a spectacular lineup that already includes the Holman, Terry Gibbs, Al Porcino, Mike Vax and Woody Herman bands, Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau, the Four Freshmen, "Big Band Broadway featuring Kenton's "The Stage Door Swings conducted by Lennie Niehaus, Woody's "My Kind of Broadway and Stan's "West Side Story conducted by Joel Kaye, "Blowin' Up a Storm (the music of Herman's First Herd), "Cuban Carnival Meets Artistry in Gillespie, in which two bands will be performing Kenton's and Pete Rugolo's pioneering Afro-Cuban works, Johnny Richards' "Cuban Fire suite, and Dizzy Gillespie's excursions into Afro-Cuban jazz with compositions by Chano Pozo, George Russell, Gil Fuller and Chico O'Farrill, and appearances each day by a university jazz ensemble culminating with an All-Star Collegiate Neophonic Orchestra. Plus, of course, the usual films and panel discussions and a bonus event on Thursday morning for the first fifty full registrants: "Stan Kenton's Hollywood, a narrated bus tour of many historic locations associated with Stan's career. All that in only four days! And it's not too late to register. Phone 562-985-7065 or send a check or money order ($350 in advance, $325 for members of the Los Angeles Jazz Institute) to the L.A. Jazz Institute, P.O. Box 8038, Long Beach, CA 90808-0038.
Moody Turns 80 . . .
I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the Kennedy Center on December 10 for the gala celebration of James Moody's 80th birthday (the actual date of which was March 26, '05) but my brother Ed, who lives in nearby Kensington, MD, was able to represent the family and sent me a playbill. The event was hosted by actor Danny Glover and featured no less than four NEA Jazz Masters including Moody himself. The others were trombonist Slide Hampton and saxophonists Jimmy Heath and Paquito D'Rivera, backed by the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band with special guest trumpeter Roy Hargrove and vocals by rising star Roberta Gambarini. Slide directed the band, whose personnel included trumpeters Randy Brecker, Greg Gisbert, Frank Greene and Claudio Roditi; reedmen Andres Boiarsky, Antonio Hart, Justin Robinson and Gary Smulyan; trombonists Jay Ashby, Steve Davis, Jason Jackson and Douglas Purviance; pianist Mulgrew Miller, guitarist Marty Ashby, bassist John Lee, drummer Dennis Mackrel and percussionist Roger Squitero. It's hard to go wrong with a lineup like that, and brother Ed says the band was as good as advertised, well-rehearsed with splendid solos all round. Happy Birthday, Moody!
Speaking of the Kennedy Center . . .
To honor the eleventh anniversary of the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, the Center is hosting a piano competition to promote female jazz pianists. Five pianists will be chosen to play in the final competition on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. The top prize is an invitation to play in the twelfth annual MLW Women in Jazz Festival next May 11-13. The competition is open to female acoustic jazz pianists of any age who have never had a contract with a "major record label at the time of application. Unfortunately, that time has passed. The entry deadline was December 30, '05.
The Votes Have Been Cast . . .
And the finalists for the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Album by a Large Jazz Ensemble are Overtime (The Dave Holland Big Band, Sunnyside / Dare2), A Blessing (John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, OmniTone), Live (The Bill Holman Band, Jazzed Media), I Am Three (Mingus Big Band, Orchestra & Dynasty, Sunnyside) and Home of My Heart (Chris Walden Big Band, Origin). I'll refrain from commenting except to note that the selection seems a tad better than usual, which is something to smile about.
And Finally . . .
Wynton Marsalis (remember him?) has written a new book, Jazz A*B*Z, an A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits, aimed at the younger generation and newcomers to jazz in general. It's a book of poetry about jazz luminaries starting with Louis Armstrong and proceeding through the alphabet, waxing poetic about Nat Cole, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Jelly Roll Morton, Gerry Mulligan, Sarah Vaughan, Fats Waller and many others, with suitable illustrations by Paul Rogers. It retails for $24.99 from Candlewick Press.
And that's all for now. Until next time, keep swingin'!
New and Noteworthy
1. John La Barbera Big Band, Fantazm (Jazz Compass)
2. Hawk / Richard Jazz Orchestra, Reunion (Sea Breeze)
3. Gerald Wilson Orchestra, In My Time (Mack Avenue)
4. Dave McMurdo, Canadian Composers Portraits: Phil Nimmons (Centrediscs)
5. Buddy Charles Concert Jazz Orchestra, We're Here (Jazzed Media)
6. Michael Pagán Big Band, Pag's Groove (Capri)
7. Sandvika Storband, Live at Bærum Kulturhus (Trumpet Jungle)
8. Howard Williams Big Band, Live at the Garage (HW Records)
9. Alex Budman / CJO, Instruments of Mass Pleasure (OA2)
10. Emerald City Jazz Orchestra, Come Rain or Come Shine (Pony Boy Records)
11. Norrbotten Big Band / Jonas Kullhammar, Snake City North (Moserobie)
12. Ryan Haines Big Band, New Horizons (Sea Breeze)
13. Tony Gairo / Gary Rismiller Jazz Orchestra, Treacherous (Sea Breeze)
14. Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, Sailing (Dragon)
15. University of Northern Iowa Jazz Band One, Memento (Sea Breeze Vista)