Rendezvous in Balboa

Jack Bowers By

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Although it’s probably too late in the game to mention, I received a brochure in mid-September from the Los Angeles Jazz Institute promoting the “Balboa Rendezvous,” to be held October 23-26 at the Hyatt Newport Resort in Newport Beach, CA, to celebrate “the musicians and the music that created the Stan Kenton Orchestra legacy.” The Rendezvous consists of films, panel discussions and concerts, and the lineup of big bands and big-band musicians is best described as mouth-watering. In other words, I wish I could be there.

The program begins October 23 with a “bonus event” described as “a concert in progressive Jazz” with special guests including ex-Kentonites Pete Rugolo, Buddy Childers and Jack Costanzo squaring off against alumni of the Woody Herman Orchestra who’ll be playing music associated with the renowned “Four Brothers” band of the late ‘40s. On Friday, a welcoming address by Howard Rumsey, best known as leader of the Lighthouse All-Stars, will be followed by a film, “Jammin’ in the Panoram: Soundies and Shorts, 1942-1945”; a panel discussion of Kenton’s involvement with Bob Hope’s NBC Pepsodent radio show with observations by two who were there, Childers and Duane Tatro; and the first concerts of the weekend, by the San Diego State University Jazz ensemble and vocalist Chris Connor. Before saxophonist Lee Konitz’s trio takes the stage that afternoon, he, Childers, Bill Holman, Don Bagley and Stan Levey will discuss Kenton’s 1953 European tour. As a prelude to the evening concert, Ken Borgers and Howard Lucraft will be among the panelists discussing Kenton’s worldwide organization, Jazz International, that presented concerts throughout Southern California in the ‘40s and produced a half-hour radio program for the Armed Forces Radio Service that featured Kenton as host. The two-part evening program consists of “A Concert in Miniature” followed by “Concert Encores,” the last featuring arrangements by Holman, Bill Russo, Gerry Mulligan and Bob Graettinger, directed by Holman and Childers with special guests Konitz, Connor and Bagley. And that’s just the first full day!

Saturday’s schedule includes more films and panels sandwiched between performances by the Cal State-Long Beach Studio One Jazz Ensemble and the Bill Holman and Jack Sheldon big bands. The evening concert, “Road Show,” centers on arrangements by Lennie Niehaus, Marty Paich and Bill Matheiu, directed by Niehaus with guest appearances by Sheldon, Bill Trujillo and The Four Freshmen. Sheldon, Trujillo, Jim Amlotte and Bob Flanigan are the panelists who’ll be discussing “The Road Show Era.” Sunday’s performers include the Saddleback College Jazz Band, the New Era All-Stars (featuring trumpeter Marvin Stamm and saophonist Gabe Baltazar), the Carl Saunders Be Bop Big Band and two evening concerts, “The Creative World Era,” directed by trumpeter Mike Vax and featuring arrangements by Ken Hanna, Hank Levy, Willie Maiden and Al Yankee, and “Mellophobia,” showcasing charts by Niehaus, Holman, Johnny Richards and Gene Roland, directed by Holman, Niehaus and Joel Kaye and featuring guest artists Stamm, Baltazar, Saunders and trumpeter Steve Huffsteter. Sunday panels include “New Era in Modern Music” (Stamm, Baltazer, Saunders, Huffsteter, Amlotte) and “Fire Fury and Fun” (Yankee, Kim Richmond, Mary Fettig, Gary Hobbs, Mike Suter). Wow!

If you’ve not yet made plans and have those dates open on your calendar, you can order tickets or obtain more information by phoning 562-985-7065. Three hundred dollars covers registration and reserved seating for all events including the bonus concert. Tickets are also available for individual events. Hotel reservations should be made with the Hyatt Newporter, 949-729-1234.

There’s nothing more to say this month except that after six years in Charlotte, NC, Betty and I have moved to Albuquerque, NM, for a spell (get it?) and hope to have more big-band news to report from there come November. Until then, keep swingin’!


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