Monday, August 17, 2009

AAJ Interviews Some of Today's Most Intrepid Big Band Leaders

The big band in jazz has a long and glorious history. It was a prevalent form in jazz music in the '20s and '30s, comprising a substantial part of America's popular music heard on radio, spun on gramophones and record players, and enjoyed in dance halls. In the post-World War II era music began to change, as the harmonic and rhythmic breakthroughs of bebop began to impact the music.

Dave Rivello Ensemble

Big bands fell out of favor. Financially, it was always tough to keep large group on the road. But big bands have always survived. Still, it's still a precarious undertaking. The cost is large and the demand, not so much. Yet it's still attractive enough for veterans like Charles Tolliver and younger men like Guillermo Klein and John Hollenbeck to proceed.

Maria Schneider has paved the way in recent years with her fabulous orchestra, a Grammy and armfuls of industry awards. {{Darcy James Argue = 13953}} composes and arranges for a fine group in New York City that is rising to critical acclaim and gaining a following.

Many of the young composers have tasted different kinds of music along their journeys and are incorporating those elements in their work; jazz being inclusive, not exclusive. But with the changing music industry, the beleaguered economy, the still-subservient status of jazz in the United States and all the logistical problems of maintaining a large group, a question one might ask about why young musicians are still carrying the torch is: Why? Why go through the headaches?

Veteran AAJ Contributor R.J. DeLuke spoke with the leaders of five of today's large ensembles - Dave Rivello, Jacam Mandricks, Chris Jentsch, Nicholas Urie, and J.C. Sanford and David Schumacher - about the state of the big band today and why, in the face of such adversity, they still choose to move intrepidly forward.

Check out Large Ensembles: Is There a Place in This Large Music World? at AAJ today!

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