Ken Poston's Big Band Showcase: You Had to Be There
Holman faced off with silver-tongued Terry Gibbs in a lively and humorous Panel No. 2, which preceded an early-evening concert by the Pete Christlieb Big Band and a second performance by the Bill Holman Band, all before supper! Christlieb's ensemble opened with Miles Davis' "Seven Steps to Heaven with crisp solos by Summers, pianist Joe Bagg and "the late Ron King (who made it onstage about one bar before his solo began, then replaced Bobby Shew, a last-minute addition to the trumpet section). Once King was settled in, the band forged ahead with another look at "Stompin' at the Savoy, Sonny Rollins' "Pent-Up House, Holman's arrangements of "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing and "In Walked Bud, and the wide-ranging "Bop Suey (based on "How High the Moon ) before closing with an Al Cohn composition whose name skipped past me. There was more unabashed wailing along the way by Christlieb, King, Summers and Bagg.
The Holman band's second performance, "The Bill Holman Songbook, zeroed in on compositions and arrangements written for his own and other bands (besides Kenton) during the '50s and '60s. The opener, "Norwegian Wood, written for Buddy Rich, featured trombonist Ryan and alto Morgan, while "Dancing Nightly, written for Maynard Ferguson, was a smooth-running vehicle for pianist Bagg, trumpeter Saunders, and tenors Christlieb and Webb. "You Go to My Head, from Holman's album In a Jazz Orbit, turned the spotlight on Morgan, Webb and trumpeter Ron Stout. "Ruth (a.k.a. "I'm Looking You Over ), also written for Buddy Rich, preceded the second of Holman's "Theme and Variations. Zoot Sims was the inspiration for "Fillings (showcasing Christlieb and Stout), while "Introduction to an Ending was written for Charlie Barnet, "Go Home for Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band, the out-of-tempo "After You've Gone for the Woody Herman Herd. Mention must be made of the superb solos by trombonist Andy Martin ("Ending, "Go Home ), baritone Bob Efford ("Go Home ), Stout, soprano Morgan ("After You've Gone ) and Christlieb (all of the above). Yet another thoroughly rewarding concert.
Following supper, those who were still responsive were treated to the "final concert by the dynamic Terry Gibbs Dream Band, performing "The Bill Holman Charts. Gibbs, who turns eighty-three this month (happy birthday, Terry!), said he'll continue to perform but no longer with the Dream Band. If this was indeed the band's last hurrah, it certainly ended with a bang, not a whimper. "Bill Holman wrote fifteen charts for the band, Gibbs saidand the band played every one of them, starting with "Begin the Beguine and ending with "Billie's Bounce. In between were such memorable charts as "Too Close for Comfort, Day In, Day Out, "I'll Take Romance, "Tico Tico, "Soft Eyes, "Ja-Da, "The Song Is You, "Pretty Blue Eyes and "Stardust. As diverting as they were, Gibbs' running commentary (and his repartee with alto saxophonist/resident quipster Med Flory) was equally engaging, eliciting one hearty laugh after another. Onstage, Gibbs resembles the Energizer Bunny, and there's seldom a dull moment when he is performing. Besides himself, Flory, Morgan, Shew, King and Huffsteter, the band's blue-chip soloists included baritone Jack Nimitz, trombonist Charlie Loper, trumpeter Warren Luening, bassist Hamilton Price, pianist Tom Ranier and drummer Gerry Gibbs, whose steady hands were a rhythmic asset throughout.
After a short break, the Bill Holman Band returned, this time to perform several of the leader's more recent compositions and arrangements, starting with snappy salutes to "Thelonious and "Woodrow, the first from his album A View from the Side, the second from last year's Hommage. Trumpeter Ron Stout was featured on "Someday My Prince Will Come, trombonist Andy Martin on "All the Way, tenor Pete Christlieb on "Goodbye Porkpie Hat. The buoyant program included "Theme and Variations No. 3 and closed with Holman's "Zoot and Al, a rip-roaring tribute to Sims and Cohn on which Christlieb and Webb locked horns and battled to a hard-earned draw. As usual, the rhythm section (Bagg, piano; Dan Lutz, bass; Kevin Kanner, drums) was outstanding, as was the spot-on trumpet section (Saunders, Stout, Summers, Pete DeSiena). What a way to end the day.
Saturday 6 October...
Saturday morning's third film embodied clips of the Lionel Hampton, Les Brown, Sauter-Finegan, Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson orchestras, with Mel Tormé guesting on drums with Kenton, tenor Dave Pell soloing with Brown, and Med Flory featured in a scene from the film The Nutty Professor with Jerry Lewis. The Kenton segment was especially apt, as it was followed (after Cal State Fullerton's poolside concert) by a panel discussion, "Stan Kenton in the 1970s, with moderator Kirk Silsbee and panelists Mike Vax, Dale Devoe, Kim Park, Mike Suter, Dennis Noday and Greg Smith.