Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Sunday, March 24, 2013
First up for the day was Kings Junior High School Jazz Band under the direction of Joe Polen. I have come to expect good things from Joe Polen over the years and this year was no exception but I do have a confession to make. I was unfortunately late upon arrival and missed their first selection, Lullaby of Birdland completely, and was only permitted to listen to their second selection, Bye Bye Blackbird from outside the concert hall doors. But their final presentation was Listen Here, an Eddie Harris composition with which I was not familiar which included a nice bari-sax solo, an interesting trade-off between tenor sax and alto sax and an accomplished guitar solo. And for my money, the keyboard work stood out throughout the entire song. Good job. Names included in the solo column were Adam Nunez, Sam Purkiss, Ethan Cain, Zach Groome and Gyasi Richardson but somebody other than me will have to match those names to the instruments played.
Next up was the Kettering Fairmont Jazz Ensemble II under the direction of Dayton Jazz Orchestra veteran and saxophonist extraordinaire, Dan Nicora. First up was A Minor Case of the Blues which had excellent big band volume [I mention this because not all high school big bands do] and there was a female double bass, female trombone solo, the piano & drums kept things going throughout [female drummer] and there was a particularly nice vibes solo. Next the band performed Milestones. This song seemed to be played with greater confidence and included a nice vibes solo, another female trombone solo and a notable French Horn solo; there had also been a switch to a male drummer and male electric bass. Then finally the band played 25 or 6 to 4, for all you Chicago fans out there [believe when they had this hit they were actually called the Chicago Transit Authority before being legally forced to change their name by the actual Chicago Transit Authority]. There was yet another drummer switch, which resulted in a great drum solo to finish out the song. The band displayed excellent ensemble work and mixed it up to include lots of solos including another French Horn solo, another vibes solo and just a good rendition overall. This band had two guitarists.
The third band of the day was the Lakota West Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Todd Hartman, who always brings bands that seem accomplished beyond their chronological years. The streak continued. He also had a piano player that got a last minute call due to illness, had no practice with the band so sight read all three selections, pretty impressive. The band kicked things off with a female vocalist, Julie Street, singing On The Street Where You Live. The song included a nice female tenor sax solo (I think by Juli Mickle). Next up was The Nearness of You which included a melodic and coherent tenor sax solo by Josh Costello and the double bass player continued to catch my ear with some fine bass work (provided by bass players Bennett Mylius and Jacob Davidson). Finally, the band played Moon Over Cuba, a Juan Tizol tune (probably more famously known for his compositions Caravan & Perdido with the Duke Ellington Band-he was also a valve trombone player) and I am happy to say that this song included two clarinetists and, as you might guess, a trombone solo (by Matt Boudin). This band also included two guitarists.
The next band displayed a big band sound throughout all three of their selections, the Xenia High School Jazz Band under the direction of Greg Sell. I later had an opportunity to speak with Greg Sell and learned that he is retired Air Force Band and as I have stated in other places, there are no bad musicians in the Air Force Band, certainly not the jazz band musicians. I know several personally and they are all fantastic. Plus Greg Sell continues a string of excellent band directors at Xenia starting some years ago with Ray Foster, including John Harner (who used to play lead trumpet for Stan Kenton and still plays with the Dayton Jazz Orchestra) and now Greg Sell. Wow, how do they do it? They kicked off their portion of the day with a pop song made popular by The Ides of March, Vehicle and with no pun intended, it was an excellent big band vehicle with a great big band sound. There was also a nice trombone solo by Adam McCoy. Next was Moonlight Serenade which featured Sean Smolinski on clarinet. It is nice to see the clarinet working its way back into big bands. The third selection was Birdland, a song which lends itself to being an ideal big band tune, and the Xenia High School Jazz Band knocked one out of the ballpark with this one. Great job! At a venue which normally entails three songs per band, Xenia played two more songs. The band did quite the noteworthy rendition of Shiny Stockings with a nice crisp trumpet solo by Luke Williams and then finished out their five song set with Herbie Hancock’s Cameleon. Brendan Orchard had a nice guitar solo and Andrew Blake played a nice bass trombone solo but the bari-sax helped carry the song, apologies for not getting the bari-sax players name.
The 5th band of the morning was Kettering Fairmont Jazz Ensemble I under the direction of Dan Nicora (accolades previously presented). The band played some adventurous choices of music beginning with Such Sweet Thunder, (a song I was only recently introduced to at the 2012 Miami Valley Band Camp by Scott Belk’s band camp group, the title track from a twelve part suite based upon the work of William Shakespeare) which has a very distinct sound which grabs your ear from the git go. Andy Kremer played a nice trumpet solo and James Johnson played a nice trombone solo also. Next up was Manteca which included numerous solos but another trombone solo and a Carlos Santanaesque guitar solo. The band did a great job on the final choice, Haitian Fight Song by Charles Mingus. The song kicked off with a spot on double bass intro by Sam Barton and Andy Kremer added another trumpet solo. There was also a nice alto sax solo and another nice guitar solo.
Up next was the Magsig Jazz Ensemble from Centerville under the direction of Tom Pompei. As usual, he brought a whole host of young eager jazz musicians. First up was a tune entitled Hefti’s Hideout [a tribute to Neal Hefti, who some say is simply one of the greatest jazz tune writers of our time. Neal wrote such great jazz charts as Li'l Darlin', The Kid From Red Bank (for Count Basie) and movie and television themes, like The Odd Couple and Batman] The band accomplished some nice ensemble work and the muted brass effects were particularly noteworthy. Next up was Nat Adderley’s Work Song which was a bit of a different arrangement with a trumpet solo by Max Miller and an alto sax solo by Collin Cutler. The Sesame Street Theme came next and was probably the best overall cohesive big band effort, nice job. This was followed by what Director Pompei called a contrast with Sesame Street, Frankenstein, written and made popular by The Edgar Winter group some years ago. This performance contained a guitar solo by Sam Huber and a bari-sax solo by Kyle Wenk and it had a great big band finish.
The 7th band of the day/morning was the Miami East High School Jazz Band from Casstown, Ohio under the direction of Jeffrey Smith. The band played some very nice nuances on their first selection, Stolen Moments, in which the drummer did a particularly nice job on the brushes and there was a nice bari-sax solo by Blake Garrett. Interestingly enough, this band also chose Such Sweet Thunder (the Duke Ellington tune based upon Shakespeare’s works previously noted) as one of their selections. There was a switch to a female drummer and solos included a trumpet solo and a valve trombone solo, soloists listed were Josh Niswonger and Brendan Speck. The final song was Blue Madness which was definitely up tempo and a nice big band selection which ended with a great big band finish.
The last band of my morning attendance before I forced time for some lunch was another Todd Hartman band, Lakota Eastside Jazz Ensemble. This group of students sounded like a working big band. Their first lengthy selection was a tune entitled Swangalang, a Bob Mintzer composition [Saxophonist Bob Mintzer is a twenty year member of the Grammy award winning Yellowjackets who also leads a Grammy winning Big Band, travels with his own Quartet, and plays with numerous bands globally. ] This selection gave band members lots of solo room and included a nice trombone solo, a sax soli, a tenor sax solo then a tempo change with a trumpet solo. There was also a rousing trombone duet tradeoff. Lots going on and very professionally played. Next up was a Thad Jones ballad, To You which included some very nice brush work on the drums and a fine trombone solo by Jacob Stegeman with some nice keyboard work too. The third and final selection was with vocalist Lauren Murphy on Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, she had some strong vocals with a great big band backup.
One of the facets of attending the Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz High School Jazz Day is that even if you are not in the auditorium to hear the bands live, you have access to those performances on a big screen TV out in the lunch room. How can you beat that? The Miamisburg Jazz Lab Band played their first two selections as I watched on the big TV screen. Unfortunately I could not hear the names of the songs the band played but when I did get in for the third selection I realized that the names of the songs were not announced at all and that the program indication of TBA for “Music, Composer (C), Arranger (A)” did not apply in this case and unfortunately I did not recognize the pieces played. I will say that the final song was an up tempo, pink panther theme-like tune with some great piano playing throughout. The names of the band members was at least listed.
Then came the home grown sound of the Beavercreek High School Jazz Ensemble 2 under the direction of Michael Bisig. This band stood out with band section related color coded ties and kicked things off with a lively tune entitled Libertango. Seemingly always trying something a little different (noted in years past), the song actually started off with the trumpet section down front to kick off the song followed by solos on trumpet, trombone, soprano sax, trumpet, trombone, trumpet, trombone, drums, percussion (actually a trade-off back and forth with drums and percussion) and then the entire band for a big band finish, nicely done! Next up was Bad Ol’ Blues which began as a slow tempo tune for the entire band and then picked up tempo for the piano solo followed by another string of solos, seemingly by all those band members that did not solo on the first song, which even included a clarinet solo, Bravo for member participation. The piano solo by Matt Ferree was of particular note. The final selection was introduced as a tune entitled Spud, to which a small voice behind me announced, “Spud? I like spuds!!” As good as the two previous songs had been, Spud contained the best drum solo of the three, thank you Steven Otto (and Taylor Goeman on auxiliary percussion), and also contained a vibes solo, bass solo and a big band drum finish.
The Centerville Jazz Ensemble 3 under the direction of Bill Burns was the next band of the day. Bill Burns is also an active member of The Dayton Jazz Orchestra and one of the best darn bari-sax players in the area. This band had a VERY big band sound. Three songs were listed but four songs were played and the first one up was Watermelon Man – let me say here that this song was not officially introduced (come on Bill, you are always good about announcing your songs wherever you play) but it sounded a lot like Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock to me. Please, somebody correct me if I am wrong. It was a bit of a different arrangement with many solos and enjoyable trade-offs between the bass trombone and the bari-sax (hey, did I mention that Bill Burns is a bari-sax man?) The next selection was a nice big band arrangement entitled Ballad for David Gibbins. This was followed by Count Basie’s Jumpin’ at the Woodside which included some electric bass playing of note and a nice big band finish. The final tune was by the favorite sax player of Bill Burns, Roland Kirk, entitled A Sackful of Soul. Bill also announced that Roland Kirk is from Columbus, Ohio. The band did a nice job on this final number which contained another nice electric bass solo.
The twelfth band of the day was another Todd Hartman group, Lakota East 2 O’Clock Jazz Band who kicked things off with Harlem Airshaft. Interestingly enough, this was another tune with which I was not familiar until the 2012 Miami Valley Summer Band Camp and I believe it too was introduced to me by a band directed by Scott Belk – Director of Music at the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, another Duke Ellington composition. For this song they brought trumpet player Nick Dobrozsi down front for a solo along with Mary Casto on clarinet. Once again, let’s hear it for the clarinet. Next selection included Meredith Cutler on vocals singing The Girl from Ipanema (actually I believe she sang the boy from Ipanema). She was backed very well by the big band and to her imminent credit, she sang the second half of the song in Portuguese. Then finally the band played Greetings and Salutations by Thad Jones (clearly Todd Hartman likes Thad Jones but then what is not to like, eh? AND from such a talented family, Thad Jones on trumpet, Elvin Jones on drums & Hank Jones on piano). This song included great ensemble work by both the trombone section and the saxophones followed by a trumpet solo, alto sax solo, trombone solo, guitar solo, trumpet solo and excellent drum work throughout. The guitar solo was particularly of note.
Centerville Jazz Ensemble 2 under the direction of Mike Voytek was the next band. They kicked off their set with what some Dayton area jazz fans call The Jazz Central theme song, Cold Duck Time, a memorable Eddie Harris composition. Originally a combo piece, this worked surprisingly well for a big band. The band played with a definite big band sound and included 2 tenor sax solos. The drums were notable throughout. Next was a Sammy Nestico tune entitled Smack Dab in the Middle which had a big band sound from the very first note plus contained a 9 sax soli. [ Nestico is a prolific composer, best know for his work with the Basie Band and The U.S. Air Force Band, for which an award has been named, for a competition calling for unpublished works for jazz ensemble. ] The final selection was the Joe Zawinul jazz classic, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, three songs, three notable composers. This final song contained an alto sax battle between Curtis Magee and Jon Evans with very nice drums throughout.
Joe Polen returned to the stage with the Kings High School Jazz Band which kicked off their appearance with the Miles Davis tune Solar. The band was understated but still managed a big band sound. Up next was Sugar Blues, recorded by Chive McCoy in the 30s and for something completely different, Tom Lehn came down front and played 30s style muted trumpet. Quite effective and interesting. There was also a nice sax soli. The last tune was a Freddie Hubbard tune entitled Sky Dive. We heard from Andrew “Taco” Smith on flugle horn and I would also note that there was a female drummer who definitely helped make the song work as well as it did.
The fifteenth band of the day was the Centerville Jazz Ensemble 1 under the direction of Josh Baker. The first selection was Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night In Tunisia with a nice bare-sax kick off and I might add, a very big band sound. The song also included a trumpet solo, right down front and some nice trombone and tenor sax solo work. The drums fit the song quite well and there was a big band finish. Listed soloists were Alex Kruzel, Emma Shibley & Covey Emmert. Next up was a bit of a surprise, the third vocalist of the day, Meredith Eckle, sang a very emotional version of Gershwin’s The Man I Love. I might go so far as to say it was a riveting rendition. The song was made even that much more effective with a beautiful trumpet solo by Katie Buttram. Then a very big band sound on the Paul Desmond/Dave Brubeck classic, Take Five. Greg Knapp played the part of Paul Desmond on alto sax. This may have been the big band song of the day. The band concluded with another Gillespie classic, Salt Peanuts. When the song was introduced, the small voice behind me once again was heard to Salt Peanuts!? The song was played in the true “staccato” style of the song with another alto sax solo from Greg Knapp (this time apparently playing the part of Charlie Parker) and the band ended with a rousing chorus, Salt Peanuts, Salt Peanuts! [As the story goes, Dizzy took his developing bop sound to the West Coast and there were complaints about no lyrics, to which his response was to add the now infamous, Salt Peanuts, Salt Peanuts!]
Next up was what might be called a surprise entry, a jazz combo. Listed as under the direction of Todd Hartman, Todd Hartman actually sat behind me during the performance. It was a group of ten Lakota High School students who played their own head arrangements of three existing jazz tunes. The band consisted of percussion, trombone, 2 tenor sax, 2 alto sax, trumpet, piano, drums, bass & guitar. This was clearly the most interesting part of the day. Their first selection was Nat Adderley’s Work Song and there was plenty of room for solos. They sounded like a working combo and if they are not getting out there to play in clubs, they should get out there. Next up was Summertime with Curtis Holtgrefe and Jack Lambert switching to clarinets. Yes I said clarinets and played very well. There was also an excellent piano solo. The final selection was a Roy Hargrove tune entitled Starsbourg St. Denis and the performance of this tune put me in mind of bands like Chase, Chicago and The Jazz Messengers in the presentation and the trumpet solo was particularly noteworthy, but truthfully, all three selections were very well done.
The Miamisburg Star City Jazz Band was the next band under the direction of Stephen Aylward. None of the chosen pieces of the band were listed in the program and none of them were introduced during the performance but if my jazz ear was working properly, the first one was Now’s the Time and the last one was Stevie Wonders’ Higher Ground (OK , that wasn’t really a jazz ear) and I did not recognize the one in the middle. Now’s the Time included a female trumpet solo, followed by solos on tenor sax, trombone, bari-sax, guitar and trumpet. There was some nice ensemble work as well with a big band finish. The second song did contain a noteworthy guitar solo. Higher Ground lent itself quite well to a big band interpretation and it was a good big band performance with a big band finish.
Up next was the Troy High School Jazz Band under the direction of Katherine McIntosh. Katherine not only stands out as the only female jazz band director but she always seems to do a good job with her musicians. This year she also played piano on the first selection, Chicago. It was a nice big band selection and an understated big band sound was accomplished. Next up was Bye Bye Blackbird with Scott Grigsby doing a nice solo on trumpet. The intro to the next tune made me sit up and listen, I thought I was playing Birth of the Cool and Miles Davis had just kicked off Boplicity. I mean wow! What a great job! Michael Starcher soloed on bari-sax and Anthony Duvault on trumpet. The final selection was I Get a Kick out of You which had some good punctuations and another notable trumpet solo by Anthony Duvault but what really helped make the performance was the drummer, Jack Alexander, was spot on throughout. Nice job.
The final band of The Weekend of Jazz High School Band day is always Beavercreek High School jazz 1 under the direction of Doug McCullough, the Master Mind of The Weekend of Jazz. Some might refer to this band as the red tie band. The first selection was Sammy Nestico’s The Heat’s On (see Centerville Jazz Ensemble 2 for more on Sammy Nestico) which was a nice big band interpretation. Listed soloists were Matthew Brenner and Jarrod Manguiat. Critical Mass was performed next which was an interesting funk flavored piece with a noteworthy alto sax solo and a nice bari-sax solo. It was certainly a great big band piece. The third song in a four song set was Back Burner which was introduced as a shuffle tune and it contained some nice ensemble work. The song also included a noteworthy trumpet and trombone solo. The listed soloists were Jarrod Manguiat, Emily Hoskins, Morgan Slone & Matt Dexter. The final selection of the day was the Ray Noble classic, Cherokee. A good big band ending to a good big band day.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
|Secret! Kept? January 5, 2013 at Jazz Central|
|The Slaughter Brothers|
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Saturday at Grant Park began for me with memorable performances from the groups of young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and another veteran drummer, Billy Hart, playing originals from their latest releases on Blue Note and ECM respectively. Akinmusire is one to watch, possessing impressive technique, an aggressive attack, and excellent interplay with his saxophonist, Walter Smith III. Through his his relentless drive and impeccable touch..Hart once again proved himself as one of the best living practicioners of the drumset. I don’t remember any particular songs that vocalist Dianne Reeves sang, a couple of them seemed to be conversations with the audience, but so powerful was her voice and so commanding was her stage presence, it provided a joyous conclusion to a great day of music..
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Jazz Central is living up to its name. It is truly the nucleus for jazz in the city of
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
at the Thompson House in Newport, Ky
Saturday, June 2 Eddie Brookshire Quintet - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, June 9 Cla've Son - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, July 7 Dave Greer's Classic Jazz Stompers - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, July 14 Tropicoso - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, August 4 Deron Bell Jazz Band - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Saturday, August 11 Son del Caribe - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Riverscape MetroPark 2012 Big Band Series:
Thursday, July 5 Hal Harris Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, July 12 Dayton Jazz Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, July 19 Tom Daugherty - Tommy Dorsey Tribute - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, July 26 Dayton Swing Era Big Band - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 2 Joe Aceto and his Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 9 Pam Noah and Her Big Band - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 16 Jack Garrett & the Syndicate Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 23 Bob Gray Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Thursday, August 30 Kim Kelly Orchestra - 7:30 to 9:30pm
Sunday, May 27, 2012
It occurs to me that many people in our area, due to the lack of media coverage, may not know who some of the better jazz artists who perform locally on a regular basis. In an attempt to rectify this shortcoming I'll be sending out newsletters from time to time featuring a different jazz performer. Please note the flyers included in this message are recent events by Greg (not upcoming events) to enhance my story.
How long have I known Greg Abate?
Every Friday he conducts a jazz lab band work shop from 10:30 to Noon at the Earl Heck Community Center 201 N. Main Street in Englewood, Ohio.
On the second Thursday of each month he presents the Retrospect Jazz Quartet at Jazz Central 2931 E. 3rd. Street doing Post-Modern Be-Bop and Neo-Classical swing along with Grant Koeller, Brad Mellen, and Elizabeth Lizi Hayes on vocals.
Jazz is dead?
Who ever told you that lied! Jazz is not only alive but is constantly growing and moving forward. As proof to my statement, I offer, from personal observations. My recent attendance at: Stivers School for the Arts fundraiser to go to the New York Jazz Festival. The Beavercreek High School Weekend of Jazz Festival and tonight in Fairborn, Ohio; The Fairborn High School Jazz Band spring fundraiser concert. All of these events were well attended and all the young players were outstanding and really into it. I have to admit that as a commercial product jazz has its ups and downs but as an art form it continues at a remarkable pace. Speaking of remarkable, tonight's performance at Fairborn's United Methodist Church was a packed house. The way the High School Jazz Band and the Jazz Improvisation Ensemble played is a tribute to Mr. Gorretta, Mrs. Gorretta and Mr. Sparling! In addition to pull of an event of the size and successful outcome is a tribute to the businesses and community who supported it. Well done!
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Saturday of the WOJ is one of my favorite days of the year. Where else can you hear so many high school jazz bands performing all day long. I love jazz but I love to hear all the musical talent in area schools. And I was able to attend the entire day again this year. Here is who played.
Under the direction of Josh Baker The Centerville High School Jazz Ensemble kicked off with a Bob Curnow Big Band composition, Slideshow. This was definitely a big band sound, five trombones, one solo after another and a nice sax soli. Then a Tito Puente piece, Ran Kan Kan, with a full drum set and full percussion set. The drums and percussion trade offs were attention grabbing. There was also good horn punctuation and the entire song had great Puente-like percussion sounds. Next up was one of my favorites, Fables of Faubus by Charles Mingus, with a bari –sax solo kick off backed up by two bass trombones, very well done and very enjoyable. The final selection was the band’s best, short but powerful, Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey! I can’t even remember the last time I heard that song. The percussionist moved to the drums and there was a very nice sax soli kick off. It was very up-tempo and a great piece on which to finish.
Under the direction of Dan Nicora (of Dayton Jazz Orchestra fame), The Kettering Fairmont High School Jazz Ensemble I was Big Band all the way! They started off with Duke Ellington’s Cottontail which included a good sax solo followed by a good guitar solo. It also included a well played sax soli. Next up was Groove Blues which was hard hitting from the very 1st note. And the band was definitely in a groove plus they were forceful when needed and subtle when needed. There was a strong trombone solo and even a bari-sax solo. The final selection was a Tower of Power tune entitled What is Hip? The drummer had a Big Band Sound that drove the band. There were two sax soloists who traded back and forth – very good! All I could say was wow!!
Centerville Jazz Ensemble II
Under the direction of Michael Voytek, The Centerville Jazz Ensemble II started off with a female vocalist on A Foggy Day (in London Town). She turned into a sax player on the next tune which was a Latin song entitled Juan of These Days. This was a very strong performance with a Big Band Sound and the drummer kept the beat going throughout. The last song was Another Excuse to Play the Blues and this selection had a Big Band Sound from the very 1st note. The song included nice trombone and sax solis. There were solos to go around but the drummer drove the performance.
Under the direction of Joe Vetter the Deer Park High School Jazz Band started things off with a tune entitled Go Ask Your Mother. Hit by a flu bug the band was only 12 musicians strong, small but mighty! Next up was a Thad Jones composition, Ah- That’s Freedom. The band had both strong and subtle punctuation throughout, helped by a jazz pro fill in on piano. A female drummer stood out on the first two tunes. There was a drummer switch for the next selection, After Sunset. An alto sax player carried the song throughout with a beautifully played subtle solo. The final selection was Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon. A female bass trombone player kicked things off and carried the song with strong help from her other three trombone mates. One of the fellows played a very confident solo that was followed by a well played electric bass solo.
Under the direction of Bill Burns (also of Dayton Jazz Orchestra fame), the 32 piece Centerville High School Jazz Band III kicked off with a tribute to the birth of Glenn Miller with his song, A String of Pearls, and though perhaps a tentative start, Bill Burns had them up to speed quickly. Next up was Duke Ellington’s Mood Indigo. Possibly the smallest drummer I have ever seen rode the cymbals just right throughout the entire song. This was an ambitious selection and included an eleven piece sax soli very well executed. But the next tune took the cake, Count Basie’s April in Paris (don’t give them anything simple to do Bill) – the band did a great job on this one and when they hit the notes for the line “April in Paris” I can tell you that Count Basie would have been proud. The last selection, Street Beat, was a swingin’ funky tune with a number of soloists, five of which were sax players – Bill Burns is a sax player after all – but it also had a memorable guitar solo and even a clarinet solo! I would also mention this band had 2 guitars and a French horn – Bill Burns is a magician!
Under the direction of Todd Hartman, The Lakota East High School 8 O’clock Jazz Ensemble had a Big Band Sound beyond their chronological age, kicking off their performance by playing a Thad Jones piece, Low Down. It was a short piece but very well done. Next was Sammy Nestico’s Katie, a toned down pace with nice drum brush work. The song also included a nice alto sax and muted trumpet solos. Next up was Straighten Up and Fly Right with a female vocalist. It was a very credible version of a Nat King Cole classic. The final tune was John Coltrane’s Naima which featured very nice tenor sax work by Merrick Morgan and a guitar solo done very well but played in a style that was closer to a rock guitar solo than a jazz guitar solo.
Under the direction of Joe Polen, the Kings High School Jazz Band started things off with Cole Porter’s I Get A Kick Out of You. A female bass player was an integral part of a Big Band Sound. This was followed by the jazz standard, Speak Low. Maggie Vetter had what turned out to be the best solo of the day as she was featured on trombone, very nice. Their third song was one of my favorite jazz tunes, written by one of my favorite composers (Bobby Timmons) and made famous by one of my favorite jazz groups in Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. Director Polen added it to the repertoire as a reward to the band getting up to speed just in time for WOJ. The band performed wonderfully and did not miss a note. They finished with the challenging La Suerte De Los Tentos, a Stan Kenton classic. The song included very fitting percussion and a nice tenor sax solo. This band did very, very well on all four of their selections.
Under the direction of Jeffrey Smith, the Miami East High School Jazz Band kicked things off with a great Cannonball Adderley tune, Sack of Woe. I don’t believe I have ever heard this a big band version of this song and they did a credible job with their female drummer helping them to big finish. Next was an original ballad entitled Matter of Time, which put me in mind of the jazz classic, Satin Doll, and it was challenging in its subtleties. The 3rd selection was the Jobim classic, The Girl from Ipanema, played with a slow tempo and a very nice tenor sax solo. Last up was the up tempo Count Basie tune, Jumpin’ at the Woodside and the band did a nice job of walkin’ the step downs. This song gave the female drummer a chance to show her chops with a nice bari-sax solo and another big finish.
Under the direction of Tom Pompei (formerly the big band drummer for the Dayton Jazz Orchestra), the 27 piece Magsig Middle School Jazz Ensemble started things off with One for the Mooch. The band included 4 vibes players (only in a percussionist directed band), a violin and I believe a Euphonium and this song even had a bari-sax solo but the piano really helped carry the song. Next was Steep & Deep with a very catchy Latin beat, flute solo, violin solo and Euphonium solo. The final selection was a Chuck Mangione tune entitled Fun and Games and the drummer who had played so well earlier was now on vibes. As I had kept waiting to hear Director Pompei cut lose a solo from one of his drummers, it turned out that the vibes solo was used instead. Hyemin Kim did a great job on both drums and vibes. While the music stands were almost taller than the guitar player and a trumpet player, it did not keep them from having a Big Band Sound.
Kings Jr High
Under the direction of Joe Polen The Kings Junior High School Jazz Band kicked things off with Moten Swing. The band did a credible job with a swing classic. Next up, another classic in Comin’ Home Baby which included a nice tenor sax solo. The band was really tight on the next selection, Connecting with the Blues, which included a trade off between tenor sax and bari-sax very well done. Director Polen introduced the final tune as based on a world famous samba brought to his attention, La Negra Tiene Tumbab. The band did a nice job on this song as well.
Unfortunately, apparently illness struck the Lebanon Junior High School Jazz Band bad enough that they were not able to field a band so next up was a Beavercreek band. However, up to this point in the various band performances there had been back lighting throughout the auditorium sufficient to take notes about each band performance but inexplicably, suddenly the auditorium was pitch black and note taking was not possible. Much more could have been noted about the next two bands but notes were not possible.
The Beavercreek High School Jazz Ensemble Two began in a highly unusual way, after being introduced there was little or no activity as the house lights went to dark. Then a female percussionist came out and sat down on stage with a drum and began a slow tempo, then stage right a trumpet player suddenly appeared in the back of the auditorium slowly advancing towards the stage playing slowly as well, then a trombone player entered suddenly from the opposite side of the auditorium slowly advancing towards the stage and playing slowly also. Then finally a sax player entered the auditorium and all three converged onto the stage and the drummer as the band filed in from offstage to take their seats. The first song was entitled Street Music. This was followed by a Lennie Niehaus composition, A Hint of Mint. The lone female drummer from the band entrance now played a vibes solo. Billie Holiday’s God Bless the Child was up next and trombone player Rob Aga did a very nice job fronting the band as he was featured on this tune. The final selection was Black Pearls and included an acoustic/classical guitar intro and a flute solo. The band was under the direction of Michael Bisig.
Thought with the unusualness of the previous performance that maybe the house lights being brought down to pitch dark had to do with a desired effect for the performance but unfortunately the house lights were brought down to pitch black for the next performance as well.
Under the direction of Todd Hartman the Lakota West High School Jazz Ensemble started things off with John Coltrane’s Blue Trane. The performance was very tight and well done. This was followed by the band backing a female vocalist singing George Gershwin’s Someone to Watch Over Me. Duke Ellington’s Harlem Airshaft was up next with some well executed tenor sax trade offs. The final selection was a Thad Jones tune entitled Us. This performance contained a nice tenor sax solo and a clarinet solo. Maybe the clarinet is working its way back into big band jazz. I say hurray!
The pleasant surprise of the day for me was the Edgewood High School Jazz Ensemble I under the direction of Jon Arnold. I do not believe I had heard this band before and they were up to the task at hand throughout all three of their selections. First up was the Blood, Sweat and Tears tune entitled Lucretia Mac Evil. There was an excellent guitar solo by Adam Hacker which was more rock than jazz just like the previous guitar solo but in this case it fit the song very well as it was a rock hit from the 60s. With a sharp change in song selection, next up was Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade. Jacob Hill was featured on clarinet throughout this performance. Last was Louis Prima’s Sing, Sing, Sing with the necessary excellent drums throughout and a well placed clarinet solo. The song was very well done and had a great brass ending. Hear, hear for the clarinet!
Under the direction of former Stan Kenton lead trumpeter (and still of Dayton Jazz Orchestra fame) John Harner, the Xenia High School Jazz Ensemble kicked things off with something from the Buddy Rich book since The Buddy Rich Big Band was scheduled to play later than night. Groovin’ Hard had a great big band sound with a six saxophone soli and definitely a big band drummer. Next up was two female vocalists singing A Whole New World from the animated feature, Aladdin. This was followed by the Thelonious Monk tune, Round Midnight. There was an excellent trombone featured in this song by Alex McCoy and even after a three hour youth orchestra rehearsal he still had chops, possibly the best solo of the day. Interesting that the two best solos of the entire day were on trombone. The final selection was Whatever it Takes, and they busted out a Big Band Sound with big band drums, a cow bell with a driving beat and good ensemble work. The trombone and guitar solos were also very well done.
Lebanon High School Jazz Band
Under the direction of David Ianelli, The Lebanon High School Jazz Band kicked things off with the Dave Brubeck classic, Blue Rhondo a la Turk (strained my brain trying to remember the name of this tune that I readily recognized since there were no selection entries in the program for Lebanon). The band was tight with a Big Band Sound and with Rob Hodge and Trevor Able providing nice alto sax solos. Harrison Miller played some well timed drums and the vibes fit very well into the performance. The next song was Berceuse (Spanish for Lullaby) for Mallory played partially in 10/8 time. This was a beautiful song with good ensemble work which picked up the tempo with a couple of sax solos followed by a guitar solo. Next up was Queen Bee, really putting me in mind of Satin Doll. Their final selection was After You’ve Gone which had a very full Big Band Sound with confident guitar solos and very nice vibes work.
Under the direction of Todd Hartman, the Lakota East High School Eastside Jazz Ensemble jumped into their performance with Duke Ellington’s Braggin’ in Brass with staccato muted trumpet and trombone followed by a staccato trumpet solo, followed by a staccato trombone and then a trumpet solo again. The next selection was Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia which interestingly enough included a female vocalist doing a slow melodic scat followed by a trombone solo, a trumpet solo, a tenor sax solo and finally a guitar solo and the female vocalist helped finish out the song. Ellington’s Tutti for Cootie [no doubt for long time Ellington trumpet player Cootie Williams] followed with excellent ensemble work and trumpet trade offs between Brendan Todahl and Michael Dudley. The final tune was Maria Schneider’s Bird Count, a rather frantic dissonant piece with another excellent Brendan Todahl trumpet solo. Brendan stood above most of the other trumpet soloists of the day. Three bands directed by Todd Hartman throughout the day and all three were on top of their game.
Under the direction of Brian Wissman, The Troy High School Jazz II band was up next. Unfortunately I missed their first two offerings, Just A Closer Walk with Thee and Short Circuit (actually I was back stage and while the band sounded good I was not honed in on specific aspects of the first two songs). The band was very tight on Come in From the Rain and blew out a Big Band Sound on their final selection, a Weekend of Jazz favorite, Area 51, which had good trumpet ensemble work.
Under the direction of Katherine McIntosh was the Troy High School Jazz I band who kicked things off with a Miles Davis classic, Four which contained a good trumpet solo and a good Big Band Sound. This was followed by Nat King Cole’s Straighten Up and Fly Right with a female vocalist who had some fun with the song and she was helped along by a good trumpet solo and good guitar backup all through the song. The third great selection was Moten Swing which really did swing, contained a good trumpet solo and built to a big finish. It was a great big band tune. Then going four for four, the last selection was a fun tune and had a great Big Band Sound, Dizzy Gillespie’s Oop Bop Sh’Bam – lot’s of fun and great big band musicianship.
Under the direction of Doug McCullough, the host band Beavercreek High School Jazz Ensemble One kicked off the final portion of the day long high school band performances with Fly Me to the Moon, a well known jazz classic in this case arranged by Sammy Nestico, what a great full Big Band Sound. Up next was a song dedicated to the baritone saxophone, some might say appropriately entitled Honk and as might be expected, it was kicked off by a bari-sax solo. The song also contained an excellent tenor sax solo. Next up was a nice and easy piece entitled Carla. The piano solo by Clement Lu was not exactly a soft solo as the might have been expected with the way the entire band was playing but was very deliberate with punctuated notes, very well done, very interesting. The last, but most certainly not least (one must throw in a cliché now and then), song was entitled Celtic Aire, with ensemble work which put me in mind of a Gregorian chant as it started off with an alto sax Celtic-like solo. The remainder of the song did sound very Irish in nature with tempo changes and another sax (tenor) solo and building to a crescendo ending. I might just have to give this band the best performance of the day award. A fitting ending to a great day of high school big band jazz performances. Thank you Beavercreek for hosting the annual Weekend of Jazz and thanks for such a great performance to end the day.
But wait, there was one more treat in store. Sylvan Station came back to the stage (as quickly as they could change the stage around) and played four more songs to really did end the day in jazz. Since I did not get to attend the Friday night concert it was an unexpected very pleasant surprise. I dare say they knocked it out of the ball park. They played selections from their Grammy nominated recording Here in America, one selection that has gone viral on the internet was Free the Toronto Nine – naturally you can check it out on the internet. Another Grammy nominated tune was an original tune written by the keyboard player (believe that was entitled Song for M) which was a duet with the soprano saxophonist, quite moving. But the one that made the biggest impression on me was a trumpet duel which pretty much sounded like Arturo Sandoval dueling Maynard Ferguson, paint was pealing off the walls in this battle. Beavercreek Band Director Doug McCullough, who is a fantastic drummer in his own right, was a guest percussionist with Sylvan Street. What a great surprise ending to a fantastic day of jazz!!
Friday, January 6, 2012
For Immediate Release
January 5, 2011
We have assembled a complete and detailed media resource page for you. It has all the details, contacts, hi-res photos, authorized YouTube videos, etc. The link is http://jwpjazz.com/Lakeland/PR.html. We will add all updates at they are completed and will periodically email you when something has been added.
We very much appreciate your giving this great jazz festival publicity. The festival is the longest continuous running jazz festival in the region and has brought in numerous major artists over the years. Additionally over two dozen high schools and colleges perform for adjudicators of some of the finest educators in the region for a very robust education experience for the students.
Please let us know if you would like to arrange an interview with one of the headliners or one of the festival coordinators, Dave Sterner or Dr. Steve Stanziano.
Jim Wadsworth Productions in support of the Lakeland Jazz Festival