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News and '11/'12 # 3
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Allen Hall
MN Prince of Snark Darkness


Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 495
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 12:11 pm    Post subject: News and '11/'12 # 3 Share topic on FB Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

News and Views from the Hall LindyJazzMobile
‘11/’12 Installment # 3

DRIVE, DANCE, REVERSE, DO NOT REPEAT

Table of Contents.
1. Three Big Bands
2. Dance Bits and Pieces in Dayton
3. Halloween Dance in Dayton
4. Dance and Unfortunate Happenstance in Pittsburgh
5. The Demise of an Cherished Itinerary?
6. Coming Attractions

THREE BIG BANDS,

Seen over a span of 12 days, in south central Ohio three jazz Big Bands heard, each one damned good and each unique.
1. The Blue Wisp Big Band has been playing a regular Wednesday gig at Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp Jazz Club for over 25 years Last week, the co-originator, band leader/drummer John “The Baron” von Ohen said it was 1,650 Wednesdays. Like mine, his arithmetic sucks. That’s more than 31 years and 6 months. I don’t have to guess if either number is a record—I KNOW it IS a record. And, about five of the original band members are still in the band, including the leader, a superb jazz musician and an ex-Kenton/Herman band drummer, and my favorite living Big Band drummer. This is one tight spare bitchin’ good jazz Big Band, with a huge book of excellent arrangements. Von Olen announces each chart, often including the name of the composer and almost always the name of the arranger. The three set, 18 tune evening leaned heavily on Duke ‘n’ Billy tunes, e.g., “Isfahan”, “Billy Strayhorn’s second most important tune, “Chelsea Bridge” plus two “Thing” compositions, “It Don’t Mean a Thing….”, and “Things Ain’t…”
2. The Count Basie Orchestra played a benefit concert in Dayton to help fund the Frank Foster Jazz Foundation at Central State University. Foster died in July of this year, He is an alumnus of that CSU, was a tenor saxophone soloist, writer and arranger for the Basie Band, and led the band after Bill Basie died. The program concentrated on Foster’s compositions and arrangements for the band. Foster’s most popular music composition is “Shiny Stockings”, and the Basie recording of that tune was Frankie Manning’s favorite recording. The two set program did not include three of my favorite Basie numbers, “Li’l Darlin’” “Splanky” and “Corner Pocket”, and so, I have to assume Foster did not write those arrangements. I know it was Frank Foster’s night, but I was disappointed that Bill Basie’s name was so seldom mentioned. Incidentally, I only saw Foster twice. Once when he was leading the touring Basie band* at a stop in Dayton Ohio, and once after his stroke, when he was in a wheel chair but leading the Frank Foster/Clark Terry Big Band at Columbia University which was playing a swing dance during the weekend celebration of Bill Basie’s 100th birthday. The band played for something like 1,000 Lindy Hoppers—probably a record, and what a night that was. Sitting in were, ex-Basie stars Frank Wess and Joe Wilder. Rudy and I were within touching distance of both Franks, plus Clark and Joe.
*Sadly nor not, the Count Basie Orchestra no longer tours in the ordinary sense of that word. It played only 11 scheduled gigs during the previous year.
3. The Famous Jazz Orchestra plays every Monday night in Columbus Ohio, and have for many years. This is a bigger Big Band with the usual 16 pieces augmented by two French Horns, a Tuba and the Leader on Trombone. To say this band is brass rich is understatement. It may not be the size of Stan Kenton’s biggest Big Band, but it’s close, and almost as loud. They have a wealth of soloists in all three horn choirs, but the four piece rhythm section is weak; a hit and miss rhythm guitarist, a way too quiet drummer and a pianist stuck off in the corner, but the rhythm drive is salvaged somewhat by the presence of a forceful bassist. Leader, and ex-Kenton trombonist, Vaugn Weister, prefers complicated arrangements and those of Bill Holman certainly satisfy and they do dominate a huge book, with at least 190 arrangements. The 3 set 23 number evening adhered to the crowd-pleasing dictim “Start every set with a (flag-waver) closer”. Weister usually names both composer and arranger for each tune. I both like and expect that. The woman vocalist featured on 8 numbers swung hard and, otherwise, was superb. Incidentally, there is another jazz Big Band in Columbus, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, which is easily the equal or better of The Famous Jazz Orchestra. With more than a little chagrin, I am forced to report that Minnesota has only one Big Band which can hope to compare with these three in central/southern Ohio. It’s The Wolverines Big Band, but we get to hear them so seldom, they might as well be elsewhere. Sigh!

DANCE BITS AND PIECES IN DAYTON

Rudy and I danced to two bands in Dayton Ohio. We prefer to dance to live music; need I apologize?
The first is the “Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers”. They play a Wed. night gig at a tony southern ‘burb joint, “Alex’s on 725”. This is a good and genuine Dixieland band, replete with a 4 horn front line (two reeds) a four piece rhythm section (Tuba doubling on String Bass), and a good book of Dixie fire-crackers. The dance floor is huge, shiny and about as tight on dance shoes as can be imagined. No Lindy Hoppers showed; love the music; hate the floor, but it’s free.
The other band was in a BBQ joint up north of Dayton, a straight-ahead (provide your own definition) jazz sextet, of three horns and a three piece rhythm section, plus a female vocalist of considerable talent, but less than considerable experience. The floor was big enough and good, some LHers were present and the band played a delightful book of common and uncommon charts. Five buck to dance; 13 bucks to dance plus all the buffet BBQ you can eat.

HALLOWEEN DANCE

This is an annual event put on by VuDo Dance. We went as dancers—can’t easily haul costumes about in a motor home—but some costumes seen there were unique and/or grotesque enough for a Halloween dance. The band was the Gem City Jazz Band, shrunk to an octet for lack of musicians, and the arrangements played included many written by Tom Kubis (a Los Angeles tenor saxophonist/arranger/big band leader). These arrangements were written for a little big band and were all so delightfully ear-attracting, I could not dance to them.

DANCE AND UNFORTUNATE HAPPENSTANCE IN PITTSBURG

First the Dance, the 11th Annual PittStopLindyHop, a Lindy Exchange which this year drew 630 registered dancers, and featured 5 bands. On Friday early was Glenn Crytzer and His Syncopaters, and late, The Solomon Douglas Swingtet. Both excellent bands, and I can say that with aplumb even after not attending those dances, Hey! I have heard both on several occasions. Saturday night was Gordon Webster octet, an energetic highly rhythmic group splendid for Lindy Hopping. Webster also fielded a combo for a late night Blues set. Sunday afternoon featured The (inestimable) Boilermakers Jazz Band. I cannot remember ever dancing to a quartet of better musicians. As delectable icing, the perfectly understated graceful Jeanie Luvv--she of mersmer phrasing--was well-featured as vocalist. I lamented, and I ain’t kidding, that we missed the Sunday night band, Rick Matt’s Little Big Band. Matt is a first-call jazz saxophonist in Pittsburgh.
However, that was just an add-on lamentation for the weekend. When driving in on Friday we were directed, by our GPS into a short cut to our RV Campground. This short-cut was 30 miles of roads which can be best described as one lane gravel over very hilly terraine. As a result we never went faster than 7 mph, and never got out of low gear in the motor home while pulling a car. That causes a dangerous heat increase in a transmission, and since heat is the major trany killer, and since a rebuilt trany costs $5K and at least two-weeks of stationary downtime. But to make matters worse, while I was driving to test the transmission the next day, a large invisible boulder viciously attacked the right rear side of the LindyJazzMobile. BOTTOM-LINE--. The trany was not quite toast but we had to retrace our itinerary steps to Dayton Ohio in order to lick our wounds, get the trany serviced and the damage fixed. Sigh!

THE DEMISE OF A CHERISHED ITINERARY
The afore mentioned lamentation required a reconsideration of our well-constructed and finely detailed winter itinerary. KA- POW—it was blown off the road for a number of reasons. Let me state the reasons.
1. It will take up to 6 weeks for the replacement motor home compartment doors, which were damaged….ahem!....by the invisible boulder, to be manufactured and shipped. And then they need to be fitted and hung and this I must schedule around a transmission servicing and some odds and ends prophylactic motor home maintenance. The LindyJazzMobile now has 91K on the odometer—a slight persistent worry in itself.
2. Rudy’s mom, who lives in Dayton is 88, frail and needs someone there to help her.
3. Rudy is scheduled for left hand carpal tunnel surgery and convalescence is 6 weeks. She probably cannot drive until then.
4. I may need a left hip joint replaced or a left knee replace or a right knee replaced or both knees replaced, all of which require extensive physical rehabilitation and since I cannot have joint surgery of any kind in Minnesota for reasons too lamentable and numerous to list, we will, doubtless remain in Dayton until green-up.
5. The adventurous siren call of the open road has fallen on partly deaf ears. We are wearing out our third motor home after 25 continuous winters roaming the nation’s roads in search of squash courts and swing dance venues. At some point, we must either die or quit, and this may be the death knell of the latter. However, spending an entire winter in frigid Dayton Ohio may rekindle our wanderlust. Stay tuned.

COMING ATTRACTIONS
1. Who knows, but I’m sure there will be something.

Allen Hall, Dinged-up Lindy Hopper
November 19, 2011 in Mom’s back yard, Dayton Ohio
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