Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This coming Monday...

Don't miss the UConn Jazz Faculty group accompanying student trombonist, Jon Shelly. We'll be playing the following repertoire: Yardbird Suite, Come Rain Or Come Shine, Emily, Tripwire (by Jon), Lover Man and In Walked Horace.  We start at 8 p.m.  No cost.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The great Thad Jones

As much as I love the contemporary big band writing of Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Bob Brookmeyer and others, I think I'd still have to say that Thad Jones is my favorite big band writer of all time.  In my opinion, no one's arrangements swing harder, and the music consistently exudes joy and playfulness.

Because I spend a great deal of time standing in front of big bands, I couldn't help but wonder how Thad conducted.  To what degree did he wave his hands?  Did he use a typical conducting pattern?  Did he count off the band and then retreat to the side of the stage?  How much did he control the band's dynamics through his gestures?  You Tube has answered more questions for me as of late than any other resource.

Here is the Thad-Jones / Mel Lewis band playing "Groove Merchant", probably in 1969. (A year before I was born.)  The roster is as follows:

The reed section: Joe Henderson, Jerry Dodgion, Jerome Richardson, Eddie Daniels, Pepper Adams.
Trumpets: Snooky Young, Danny Moore, Al Porcino, Richard Williams.
Trombones: Eddie Bert, Astley Fennell, Jimmy Knepper, Cliff Heather.
Rhythm: Mel Lewis, drums; Roland Hanna, piano; Richard Davis, bass.
Conductor: Thad Jones.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

University of Connecticut Jazz Combos

On Monday, Oct. 25th, the UConn Jazz combos, directed by Bill Reynolds, Gregg August and me, will step onto the von der Mehden stage for the second time this semester. Here is a brief video montage from the last concert:

Additional dates for your live jazz calendars:

Nov. 9th (Tues.):  The UConn Jazz Septet performs Bill Cunliffe's remake of "Blues and the Abstract Truth".  von der Mehden Recital Hall, UConn. 8 p.m.

Nov. 15th (Mon.): The Jazz Lab Band, directed by John Mastroianni. von der Mehden Recital Hall, UConn. 8 p.m.

Nov. 19th (Fri.): The UConn Jazz Septet performs as the opening act for Sean Jones and the Curtis Brothers at the Wadsworth, Atheneum in Hartford. 7 p.m.  (Sponsored by the Hartford Jazz Society)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Earl MacDonald presents... trombonist, Jon Shelly

Monday, November 1st, 8 p.m.
von der Mehden Recital Hall,
University of Connecticut, Storrs

Jonathan Shelly - featured, student trombonist
Earl MacDonald - piano
Gregg August - bass
Bill Reynolds - drums

Friday, October 15, 2010

UConn Jazz Combos

Expect the upcoming UConn jazz combo concert to be a fun filled show with plenty of variety.  On the evening of Monday, Oct. 25th, six different groups will perform ---  the UConn Jazz Septet, the Savoy Syncopaters, the Mysterious Jazz Mystics, the Herbie Hancock Tribute Ensemble, the Modern Jazz Quintet, and the Jazz Prophets.

I direct the Herbie Hancock Ensemble and the UConn Jazz Septet.  The Hancock group, comprised entirely of freshmen, will play two selections from Herbie's 1962 "Takin' Off" album.  The Septet has prepared arrangements by Grammy Award winner, Bill Cunliffe, from his album “Blues and the Abstract Truth, take 2” (a remake of Oliver Nelson’s classic album “Blues and the Abstract Truth”).

My students have impressed me with the strong work ethic they have demonstrated this semester.  They have been busy transcribing, memorizing and analyzing recorded solos.  They have eagerly devoured the improvisational concepts I have shared.  In just two months, I have witnessed tremendous growth in this dedicated bunch.  This is a concert you won't want to miss.

Monday, October 11, 2010

13 Excellent 2010 Jazz Releases

Stumbling upon Phil Freeman's list of "13 Excellent 2010 Jazz Releases" from his blog "Running The Voodoo Down" has renewed the bounce in my step and got my week off to a great start.  Here's his list:

Carlos Bica, Carlos Bica + Matéria-Prima (Clean Feed)
Regina Carter, Reverse Thread (E1)
Decoy, Vol. 1: Spirit/Vol. 2: The Deep (Bo’Weavil)
Marc Edwards/Weasel Walter Group, Blood of the Earth (ugEXPLODE)
Amir ElSaffar/Hafez Modirzadeh, Radif Suite (Pi)
Fight the Big Bull, All is Gladness in the Kingdom (Clean Feed)
John Hébert Trio, Spiritual Lover (Clean Feed)
Dave Holland Octet, Pathways (Dare2)
Lawnmower, West (Clean Feed)
Earl MacDonald, Re:Visions – Works for Jazz Orchestra (Death Defying)
Dan Pratt Organ Quartet, Toe the Line (Posi-Tone)
David Weiss & Point of Departure, Snuck In (Sunnyside)