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Sound Ideas #22 - Big Band Jazz
Welcome to an hour of big band jazz. Thanks for stopping by and digging the swinging sounds.
Artist Track Album
Quincy Jones The Quintessence The Quintessence
Gene Harris All Star Big Band Swinging the Blues Tribute to Count Basie
Duke Ellington Tang The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse
Lalo Schifrin The First Snowfall Bullitt Soundtrack
Stan Kenton Then I'll be Tired of You The Ballad Style of Stan Kenton
Nat King Cole Orange Colored Sky Big Band Cole
Ray Charles Mister C Genius + Soul = Jazz
Woody Herman Wildroot Jazz Collection
Miles Davis The Pan Piper Sketches of Spain
Gil Evans Bilbao Song Out of the Cool
Bob Mintzer Big Band Swing Out Swing Out
Quincy Jones Parisian Thoroughfare Compact Jazz

While often better known, especially in later years, as a producer of pop music, the musical legacy of Quincy Jones is far greater than that of a record producer. His early years with big band jazz ensembles were dynamic and highly creative ones where new textures, arrangements, and stylistic melding abounded. Numerous album and movie scores through the 1970s benefitted from the unique sound and talent of Q, and his impact on subsequent arrangers cannot be over estimated. The Quintessence is a marvel in sound, even 50 years after its recording. It could have very well been recorded just last week.

Gene Harris, after several years in an electronic funk, assembled a couple of the best touring big bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This date pays tribute to Count Basie, and it sure does swing. One of the Duke's later endeavors was the Afro-Eurasian Eclipse that fused musical styles from three continents. Rounding out the set is music from a film score by Lalo Schifrin with a different take on big band jazz.

Our third set is a brass lovers delight with the unmistakable sound of Stan Kenton with his orchestra, and then backing up the Nat King Cole Trio. We hear another brass power house with Ray Charles backed up mostly by the Count Basie Orchestra, and finish off with one of Woody's thundering herds from the mid 1950s.

The last set takes on the multi-faceted textures of Gil Evan's arranging, first with Miles Davis, and then with his outing from a few years later. A prolific arranger in the 1980s and onward is Bob Mintzer, and we hear a cut that pushes the creative edges of swing. Closing out the hour is another big band slice from Quincy Jones, with his take on the Brown-Roach classic, Parisian Thoroughfare.

Just as jazz has continued to grow and evolve over the decades, so too has the large ensemble in jazz. While much of the big band jazz of today seems at times a distant relative of the predictable big band pop of the 1930s and early 1940s, the large ensemble is place of creative diversity. Yet, as with the jazz tree, there are many, many branches, yet the continuity remains across seemingly disparate stylistic considerations. Still, the greatest test of any jazz recording applies. Does it sound as fresh today as it did when it was recorded? If yes, then you know you have the real thing. Jazz is an incredible forward looking creative art that continuously honors its past while evolving through the present and into the future.