The Best-Laid Plans...

Jack Bowers By

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Even the best-laid plans (I'm paraphrasing here, and ending the sentence with a preposition) don't always work out the way one wants them to. Betty and I had tickets November 12 to see and hear the great Eddie Daniels perform with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. The plans were derailed by a sudden attack of uncontrollable sneezing that struck me the night before and refused to let up the following day. At six o'clock that evening, Betty said, "You'd better not go, and I had to agree. So we stayed home (and I still don't know what caused the sneezing).

According to reports we missed a very good concert, which one would expect when Daniels, one of the world's foremost Jazz clarinetists, is the featured soloist. He played Aaron Copland's Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, written originally for Benny Goodman, and three encores—two big-band charts by Tommy Newsom, "I Thought About You and "Rachel's Dream, and a solo improvisation. D.S. Crafts, writing in the Albuquerque Journal, said that Daniels "spun forth richly melodic phrases in the luxurious first movement [of the concerto], then tore into the cadenza, playing it decidedly faster than the original Goodman recording. . . . Crisp rhythms from the orchestra complemented Daniels' colorful flights of written-out improvisation [if there is such a thing]. Sounds like a good time was had by all. I wish we'd been there (and please pass the Kleenex). . . .

Other plans worked out better. . .
By Monday, the sneezing attack was over, and we were able that Thursday to make it cross-town to the Outpost Performance Space to hear a concert by the Southwest Jazz Orchestra, an admirable eleven-piece ensemble founded by pianist / vocalist Jack Manno, who did neither but limited his participation to conducting the band. The orchestra focuses primarily on the music of Mulligan, Mingus and Monk with a few originals tossed in to broaden its perspective. There was also poetry, read by Richard Atkinson ("New Orleans—Gone to Hell ) and Lee Meitzen Grue ("Jazzmen ).

The ensemble opened with Mulligan's "Idol Gossip and performed two compositions by Mingus, "Boogie Stop Shuffle and "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love, the first arranged by trombonist Ed Ulman, the second by saxophonist Bill Wood. Wood doubled and tripled, as did the other members of the reed section (Dave Anderson, Arlen Asher, Cindy Tag). Jan McDonald was the lone trumpet, Ulman the trombone "section. Rounding out the group were Chris Allen on electric vibraphone, Michael Anthony on guitar, Chris Ishee on piano, Rodney Bowe on bass and Ryan Anthony on drums. Anthony composed "Steps and "Silent Fury, while Manno arranged the lone standard, Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When. It was a generally agreeable introduction to the SJO, and we look forward to hearing more from them.

We marked the return of December with a concert at nearby Rio Rancho High School with guest ensembles from the University of New Mexico, Jazz Bands 1 and 2 directed by Glenn Kostur. They were preceded by the RRHS Mid High Jazz Band (Neil Bell, director), Jazz Band 2 (Kurt Schmidt, director) and Jazz Band 1, directed by Brad Dubbs. Kostur, who plays lead alto with the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra, was featured on tenor with Jazz Band 1 on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Qjiet Nights of Quiet Stars and Doug Beach's "Missing Tooth, dedicated to the late composer / arranger / pianist / educator Frank Mantooth. The UNM bands played four numbers each, and handled the assignment quite well, with nice solos by baritone Ashley O'Hearn (Jazz Band 2), trombonist Greg Hotrum, guitarist David Kelly and tenors John Dubois and Manny Ramirez (Jazz Band 1). Highlights were Craig Biondi's "Rick's Lick" and Mark Buselli's arrangement of "My Shining Hour (Jazz Band 2), Thad Jones' "Little Pixie and Matt Harris' "Cabeza de Carne (Jazz Band 1).

Two nights later, Betty and I were at the Albuquerque Museum of Art for Yule Struttin', the annual fund-raiser for the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, an evening of food, auctions (silent and open), museum exhibits and of course, music, ably performed by the Albuquerque Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Workshop High School Honors Band, the Latin group Terra Plena led by bassist Maud Beenhouwer, and down-homes blues courtesy of Chris Dacup and Tommy Elskes. The food was good, the music even more so, although the acoustics in the spacious museum left much to be desired. The AJO, directed by trombonist John Sanks, played a nice hour-long set, ending with one of my favorite big- band charts, the late Bill Potts' aptly named "Big Swing Face. Judging from the size of the audience—several hundred, I'd guess—the event was a big success.

It's Official. . . !
As Ken Poston said in announcing his next extravaganza, "you've talked us into it once again. And so Poston and the Los Angeles Jazz Institute will present "Encores in Big Band Jazz: Artistry in Rhythm Meets Woodchopper's Ball, celebrating the music that created the Stan Kenton and Woody Herman legacies, May 25-28 at the Four Points Sheraton at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). And what a dazzling array of stars they've assembled! Besides the Woody Herman Orchestra directed by Frank Tiberi, there'll be performances by the legendary Terry Gibbs Dream Band, the Four Freshmen, the Bill Holman, Al Porcino and Mike Vax Big Bands, and Maynard Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau.

But that's not all. There's Big Band Broadway featuring "The Stage Door Swings, directed by Lennie Niehaus; Woody's "My Kind of Broadway and Stan's "West Side Story, both directed by Joel Kaye; and "Blowin' Up a Storm, the music of Herman's mid-'40s First Herd. How's that for a starting lineup? Holman, by the way, will be showcasing two of his extended compositions—"The Tall Guy (a tribute to Kenton) and "Homage à Woody (dedicated to guess who).

Of course, there'll be the usual films, panel discussions, special presentations and poolside concerts for those who'd otherwise be bored. Not to mention a bonus event for the first fifty people to register—a narrated bus tour Thursday morning of many historic locations significant to Stan Kenton's career including the Earl Carroll Theatre, C.P. MacGregor Studios, Decca's Hollywood Studio, the Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood Bowl, Radio Recorders, the original Capitol Studios, the Capitol Tower, Wallich's Music City, Stan's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Creative World offices and the Kenton grave site in Westwood.

This is a bonus event, and no tickets will be sold for it. The price for all of this—and as always, it's a bargain—is $350 in advance ($325 for Institute members). To register, send check or money order to the Los Angeles Jazz Institute, P.O. Box 8038, Long Beach, CA 90808-0038, or phone 562-985-7065. Yes, I'm going, so we'll see you there!

Higher Standards. . .
I received in the mail a brochure about an interesting new web site, www.JazzStandards.com, and thought I'd pass the information along, as some (if not all) readers may find it useful. It's described as "an educational and informative look at the tunes Jazz musicians record and play, and is aimed at Jazz educators, musicians, researchers, journalists, disc jockeys, students and Jazz fans (that about covers it). Included are origins and histories of songs, music analyses, songwriter biographies, book reviews and CD recommendations.

The sample page, which assesses the standard "My Funny Valentine, contains a carload of helpful data including all of the above plus musicians' comments, soundtrack information, a list of other songs written by the same composer (Richard Rodgers), Jazz history notes pertaining to the song, recommended books for reading and research, and even a "listen button to hear the tune at amazon.com. Sounds indispensable, and it's only a click or two away.

And that's it 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. Danny D'Imperio Big Band Bloviation, Vol 2 (Rompin' Records)
  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. Don Menza Big Band, Menza Lines (Jazzed Media)
  11. Norrbotten Big Band / Jonas Kullhammar, Snake City North (Moserobie)
  12. Mt. Hood Community College, Super Blue (Sea Breeze Vista)
  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)

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