Big Bands: Another Bumper Crop
That should be enough to keep most big-band enthusiasts engaged and happy for more than a few days. . . .
A Reminder . . .
"The Stage Door Swings, the next big-band extravaganza sponsored by Ken Poston and the Los Angeles Jazz Institute, is set for next May 22-25. As the name implies, it will be devoted to big-band arrangements of music from Broadway, much of it written by such legendary songwriters as Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Richard Rodgers (with Lorenz Hart or Oscar Hammerstein), Frank Loesser, Lerner and Loewe, Sammy Cahn, Harold Arlen and others. Poston says at least sixteen big bands will perform with a number of smaller groups and vocalists also on hand. The "bonus event on May 21 features the Dave Pell Octet playing music by Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, and Harry Warren. Poston is online at lajazzinstitute.org
Jazz Great Cecil Payne Dies at 84
Cecil Payne, one of the bop era's greatest baritone saxophonists, died November 27, 2007, two weeks before his eighty-fifth birthday. Although not a regular performer with big bands, he was a member of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra in the late 1940s before launching a long and distinguished career as a soloist with smaller groups, many of which he led.
In recent years, even though slowed by failing eyesight, Payne had played and recorded with a number of young lions, most notably tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth, with whom he appeared on four albums for Delmark Records. He also performed at the annual "Great Night in Harlem benefit concert for the Jazz Foundation, where he was reunited with many old friends including Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ron Carter, Frank Foster, Ray Barretto, Freddie Hubbard, Frank Wess and others. Besides his mastery of the baritone, Payne was known for his always-optimistic attitude. "The sun is up and so am I, he would say. "It's a good day. And now it's a sad one for many in the jazz community who must say farewell to their good friend and colleague.
Also, Elaine Lorrilard, who with her husband, Louis, founded the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954, died November 26 at age ninety-three. A chance remark by a friend, John Maxon, who suggested at a classical concert in Newport that something similar should be done for jazz, led the Lorillards to contact George Wein, then the owner of a nightclub in Boston, and ask that he produce the first Newport Festival. Wein's lineup for the inaugural event included the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Oscar Peterson Trio, the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, the George Shearing Quintet, the Erroll Garner Trio, the Gene Krupa Trio, and singers Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. No wonder he went on to produce many more of the Newport events! The Lorrilards led the nonprofit Newport Jazz Festival Foundation for six years.
And that's it for now. Until next time, keep swingin'!
New and Noteworthy
1. Mike Barone Big Band, By Request (Rhubarb Records)
2. Phil Woods/DePaul University Jazz Ensemble, Swingchronicity (Jazzed Media)
3. Stan Kenton, Cool, Hot & Swingin' (Tantara)
4. Don Menza/SWR Big Band, Voyage (Hanssler)
5. Buddy Rich, Time Out (Capitol)
6. Tony Faulkner Jazz Orchestra, Thad Jones and the Ellington Effect (GLP/Capri)
7. Dallas Original Jazz Orchestra, Messin' with Texas (JazzMark)
8. Jump City Jazz Orchestra, Live at Chris' Jazz Café (JCJO)
9. Wayne Wallace, Dedication (Patois Records)
10. Howard University Jazz Ensemble, Here's to Life! (HUJE)
11. New Big Band featuring John Blount, Better Days Ahead (Sea Breeze)
12. Dean McNeill Large Jazz Ensemble, Prairie Fire (Cellar Live)
13. Brad Steinwehe Jazz Orchestra, Nutville (Sea Breeze Jazz)
14. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Christmas Day, My Favorite Day (Sea Breeze Vista)
15. Eveneven Big Band, Tiny Elephant (Schmell)